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Freelancing is Resistance

Written By: Lucie Le Naour



I saw this installation from Czech artist Eva Kot’átková last January, as part of the YOYI! Care, Repair, Heal exhibition in Berlin, Germany. The exhibition addressed a broad range of issues such as the politics of health, the resilience of Indigenous knowledge systems, decoloniality, and more, through the works of 26 artists, along the concepts of care, repair, and healing. In her installation - Kot’átková specifically elevated the voices of workers suffering from mental health or physical issues but who must still work within the constraints of the workplace to survive.

There are no words to describe the catharsis I experienced standing in front of this installation. The words on one poster, “I speak for those who function regardless of the needs and complaints of their own body,” and the cage at the bottom - all of it resonated with me so deeply. And I couldn’t have seen it at a more perfect moment.


When I visited this exhibition, I had been let go of my job about a month before (a couple of days before Christmas - good day!). And I had absolutely nothing left in me. After working through two years of lockdowns and layoffs and surviving debilitating mental health issues that started eight years ago, I couldn’t fathom putting myself through rounds and rounds of interviews with multiple companies again. Let alone work five days a week under a manager whose ego I’d most likely have to manage, and who may decide anyways that the way I am in the workplace is the wrong way and let me go six months later (as had just happened). This also happened a couple of years back at another company. That other time, I was devastated. But this time, I was just eff*n tired.

I was so overly, utterly done with the workplace that deciding to go freelance happened on the same night I was let go. I had never considered freelancing before in my life and had zero idea of how to make it happen. But when I saw that installation a month later, I knew it was the right decision because I absolutely wanted to scream. I wanted to break that damn cage on the floor and set the whole thing on fire. I’ve spent enough time in therapy (a little over four years where I had to negotiate my hours with each and every employer so that I could even go) and done enough inward looking to know that the problem was not with me but with the system.

I was done working on myself. The fact is, people like me who are genderfluid, queer, biracial, and neurodivergent simply do not fit the boxes of the current workplace, no matter how hard we try. The situation was and is still not likely to change anytime soon. So instead of trying to make myself fit into a space that was never designed for me in the first place—which had made me mentally and physically sick for as long as I can remember—I decided to step out of it and work the way that works for ME. I mean, ideally the way that works for me would be to not work at all, but a gurl gotsa survive!


I am now six months into freelancing, and I don’t regret it one bit. If you have physical or mental health issues like I do, this might be what you need to feel better. I’ve been on antidepressants for about eight years out of my 13-year career and for the first time in a long time I can imagine a life without them. How is this possible, you might ask?

Because I work from home with my cat and there’s nobody to force me into the office for no good reason.

Because I don’t have an unqualified manager above me that has all the power to decide if I get to stay or go or if I get that promotion or not. I’m free to choose my title and how much I get paid because I fuck*n can.

Because I can say and do whatever the eff I want. Clients who like me will work with me. Clients who do not like me won’t work with me. I went as far as describing myself with words that were used in feedback given to me at my previous workplace on the website of a consultancy I work for. Everyone is warned.

Because I am paid to deliver a service on my terms, not the other way around. Anything that is out of scope for a project or takes more time than expected is invoiced at time. Nobody can change my job description for free.

And then of course I get to organize myself how I want, take or refuse work, or take the damn afternoon off if I’m tired. Sure, if I work less, I get less money. But I also get paid way, way more and I am much less stressed. Because everything (more or less) is under MY control. No one gets to dictate anymore if I’m employed or not, how exactly I should execute that task, and if I’m good enough at my job. I am damn good at what I do. And if you can’t see it, that’s entirely your problem ma dude.


I realize I am also very privileged in that I was able to make the choice for myself. I live in Germany where the social security system enabled me to do so. For the first couple of months when I didn’t have any clients, I was getting unemployment money. It also didn’t take me very long to find projects because I have enough experience at this point in my life that putting a portfolio together took me exactly ten mins. I don’t have debt or kids to take care of. But mostly I trusted myself and my skills and I was out of f*cks to give.


My goal with this blog post is not to tell you how to become a freelancer or that what works for me will work for you. Rather, capitalism has convinced us that it is entirely normal to work yourself sick and to put the needs of companies and those who run them above our own. But there are always ways you can make the system work for you. I just became a company so I could put my needs above everything else. If you listen to your gut, I’m sure you’ll find the solution within you, your path to resistance. I promise you; it is worth taking it. Do it. Resist.


 

Meet the Author

Lucie Le Naour

Lucie Le Naour (any pronoun) is a freelance content designer, technical communicator, and co-founder of Yourequal, an upcoming employer-rating platform designed to meet the needs of employees from underrepresented groups.



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2 comentários


P De Chine
P De Chine
06 de fev.

Hey, thanks for your post. I full on agree with you on many of the freelance points but in terms of fitting in the current workplace - I have a totally different take. I dont do pronouns, I'm not Gen Z. In fact, I am OLD SCHOOL (Totally Fuckin Proud of that!) and come with experience. I roll up my sleeves to get the job done, and analyze it later when time permits. What I do not like in the current work place is the LACK of professionalism. Some want to be known as "they" and report us to idiots HR people for writing grammatically incorrect emails JUST to address their pronouns. They don't show up to work on time…

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Respondendo a

Wow, for someone so against pronouns you (a pronoun) sure used a lot in your post to complain about pronouns, you said "I" at least a dozen times.

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