The (Myth of?) the Lonely Freelancer

loneliness-mythFreelancers are lonely, or so says conventional wisdom.

Here at Freelance Folder, we’ve addressed the issue of loneliness several times.

Freelancing loneliness is a well-established fact–or is it?

Recently, I realized that I’m not very lonely and haven’t been for quite a while. That got me wondering about the issue of loneliness and freelancing.

Is it a myth that most freelancers battle loneliness, or is it a truth?

To find out I decided to pose the question “do you feel lonely” to my Twitter community.

In this post, I share those answers and invite you to share how you would have responded to my question.

What Do Other Freelancers Think About Loneliness

Here are the answers to my admittedly very impromptu and unscientific poll (since participants were limited to my followers on Twitter). I found the responses interesting, and I think you might too.

I’ve divided the followers into two categories: lonely and not-so-lonely.

First, the lonely responses:

  • @2inspired, “Yep sometimes it does get a bit lonely here. I try to mix it up by joining a group & having lunch w/a pal every once in awhile.”
  • @RaeConover, “I was just talking to a friend about that. I try to make at least 1 lunch date per wk & networking via twitter and FB helps too.”
  • @amberweinberg. “Yes, it gets lonely working in my office alone, so I try to work in a cafe and at a friend’s office a couple of times a week”

Now, the not-so-lonely responses:

  • @YoFinanceWriter, “Not often. I have a hubby who is with me so that helps, I also have many friends who work from home and we meet up weekly/monthly.”
  • @leslieajoy, “I like being alone, but with being a freelancer I find that I get tired talking to the same people, most of who don’t get my job.” and “I can go two days and only see my boyfriend. I’m always on the lookout for online communities for this reason. They help!”
  • @seanmlyden, “Not really. To fight isolation, I go to Starbucks to write. The “white noise” (along with the caffeine) helps me focus!”
  • @ocopy, “No. Honestly, I like working alone!”
  • @stephauteri, “I used to feel SO lonely! Now I work in an office three days a week, and it’s the perfect balance!”
  • @theautowriter, “Generally, no. If I need a change of pace, I can get out & connect with someone. The occasional special event helps too.”

As you can see, there are a few more not so lonely responses. However, since this wasn’t a scientific poll that might mean nothing at all.

What I Think

After conducting this poll, I thought a lot about the results. On the surface, it looks a lot like freelancers are less lonely than many bloggers suppose.

While I can’t draw a definitive conclusion based on this one informal study, I did come up with some theories:

  • There’s a huge initial shock when a freelancer starts–particularly if they’ve worked in a traditional environment previously. You’re used to being around other people all day long, and all of the sudden there’s no one else there. That can be a big adjustment for some people.
  • Over time, most freelancers do adjust to the isolation of a freelancing environment. They start to work out their own solutions to finding social contacts (as you can see from the responses above). In short, they just get used to being alone.
  • Loneliness can be an attitude or an outlook on life. For some people, loneliness can be the filter through which they view the world. If this is the case, the actual circumstances that such a person finds themselves in don’t matter that much.
  • Loneliness is not limited to the freelancing community. People get lonely in all types of professions. Some people can be lonely in a crowd if they don’t feel connected to anyone. For that reason, loneliness posts often strike a sympathetic chord.
  • Sometimes it’s necessary to find professional help to deal with loneliness–and there’s nothing wrong with getting help. I can’t bring myself to write a post about an issue like this one and not make that statement. If you’re having a lot of distress and can’t see a way out–get help.

I should also say that no one individual response led me to these theories. Rather, this is something that I have been thinking about, off and on, for some time.

What Do You Think?

It’s your turn to share what you think about loneliness. How would you have answered the question?

Do you think freelancing loneliness is largely a myth–that freelancers are no more lonely than other folks–or, do you think freelancers are generally lonely. Why, or why not?

Leave your answers in the comments.

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