When you’re working as a freelancer, there are hundreds of perfectly good reasons why this path is the best one for you. You have the freedom to set your own hours, more or less. You can work from home, from your bed or from a café of your choice. You’re answerable only to yourself and you’re fine with that.
But there are some elements of your working life that can be a challenge to even the hardiest freelancer and one of the biggest ones is a feeling of isolation. For so many of us, it’s entirely possible to spend a lot of our days focused on our laptop with only the smallest sliver or interaction with the outside world and real people. If you’re around people outside your working life, you might be ok with this but if your social life is limited then it can take its toll.
Loneliness is real and the Government’s strategy to tackle this social ill highlights how deep the problem goes in society. Far from being just an issue that older people face, loneliness can run deep and hits those hard who struggle with anxiety or face other mental health issues.
You’re not immune from loneliness as a freelancer, you may get together with others once in a while for networking events or workshops but chances are you’re a one-person concern, day in, day out.
But don’t think that freelancing is the only work environment where loneliness can breed, the survey shows that even our salaried, desk-bound peers can feel cut off and alone, even surrounded by others. Perhaps the nature of the work keeps them separate, or perhaps there’s a language barrier. Being in the same room doesn’t necessarily mean you’re on the same wavelength.
Yet solving the problem of loneliness, creating connections and damn well doing some social good is at the heart of one organisation. Meet Social Friday. They want to change the world one social activity at a time and they want the freelance army behind them.
Founder Fikret Zendeli explained: “Feeling isolated and alone is so often only applied to older people but each of us runs this risk of feeling like this both in our personal and professional lives, even more so if you work as a freelancer. I know that the best way to tackle this condition is through intentional sustained action. A deliberate coming together with others, united around a common cause and this is where Social Friday comes in.
“Let me ask you how you feel on a Friday afternoon? Chances are you’re tired and losing motivation as the clock ticks down to the weekend but why not end your working week on a positive note? Get together with other freelancers or get in touch with a community group and spend an hour or so getting involved in something completely different to your working life. This is volunteering on a new level. Build connections, build friendships and relationships and feel valued as you give back to your community. Set the example and others will follow where you lead.
If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. But building bridges between industry and community is also breaking new ground, here in the UK and across the rest of the world. Don’t think Fikret and his team are setting their sights too low either; they’ve already lobbied Justin Trudeau, Angel Merkel and other authority figures to get attention for the cause.
What about you? What about your fellow freelancers, could you see yourself creating monthly or quarterly meetings where you get together and find common ground for a common good? Do it for the good of your community, to make differences in the lives of the more vulnerable people in our society or to make a positive impact on the environment but also do it for you.