Everyone hears "self-employed" and they think, "Oh LUCKY!" Or at least that's what I hear. I hear all about how I don't have a boss to deal with and I don't have to get up at a certain time and I can work in my PJs...oh yes, and there's no commute - cuz, as you are already familiar, I work at home.
I've been mostly self-employed for 19 out of the last 21 years. At various times I've had part-time (very part-time -- like six or ten hours per week) jobs teaching or grant writing. Though, much of the grant writing I've done has been from home, too. The time I have spent in an office or office-like environment has taught me that I'm kind of office-repulsed. I get in under the fluorescent lights and the drop ceilings and the fake walls and the hierarchical structure and I kind of turn green. Usually, I end up pissing off most of the people I work with because I become completely anti-social and uber efficient in my speech.
Fellow Worker: "Um, Pandora, would you help me with something? I just don't know whether to go with the red carpeting or the blue carpeting in this office."
Me: "Blue." (walks away)
And that's on a good day. On a bad day I'd say something, "I have no investment either way, just make a decision."
I don't play well with others.
I don't like eating lunch with my co-workers and listening (if not, GASP) responding to idle chitter chatter about weekend plans and complaints about work and the endless dreariness of it all. I think that's what I miss the least, the dreariness. The dreary obligation that everyone there is there because they HAVE to be there and they've forgotten that they CHOSE to come there and that the COULD be elsewhere. That kind of vibe just makes me green. I don't have the stomach for it. Especially during lunch.
HOWEVER, there are DOWN SIDES to being self-employed. Here is my top TEN list of downsides to being self-employed:
10. Absolutely NO office gossip. I already know it and, believe me, it's not interesting.
9. Nobody to blame if things don't get done on time. It's either me or me or me.
8. I have to pay my entire Social Security and Fed and State taxes out of what I earn. (sigh)
7. No one but me to hold me accountable for showing up (on time or at all)
6. The work day doesn't begin and doesn't end. It's like a river, I just jump in and out as I go throughout the 24 hours...
5. No one cool to eat lunch with (if there is such a thing)
4. Really boring holiday/birthday parties (that might be the same as at an office) lol
3. No random ass strange gifts during the holidays from people I hardly know. (oh, wait, that's a perk)
2. Literally have to be a Time Management and Organization Ninja
1. I am in charge of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. There's no such thing as delegation or sharing work. It's all on me.
Now, having said all that. There are DEFINITE perks to working at home, such as:
10. No dress code. I do dress for the day (in other words, I do not work in my PJs -- namely because I don't wear PJs) and that makes me feel good and present for the work that needs doing.
9. No one oo'ing and ahh'ing over my delicious homemade lunch. I don't know why, but that always irked me.
8. NO COMMUTE, NO TRAFFIC, NO GAS USAGE
7. Get to hire/work with people I CHOOSE to hire/work with
6. Get to create a collaborate, respectful environment with those I choose to work with
5. Take vacations whenever I choose and for however long I can take them. (Go ahead, ask me when the last time was that I took a vacation).
4. Rent and cell phone and other tax write-offs.
3. Get to see my kid every day when she comes home from school - awesome (usually).
2. Plenty of flexibility for doctor's and therapy appointments.
1. A feeling of agency and self-sufficiency that is ultimately very, very rewarding.
If you're thinking about going self-employed or going back to the office, weigh your personal pros and cons. One woman's paradise is another woman's torture. I know some people who LOVE having an office because the work just stays there and you get to go home. With me, the work follows me throughout the day until I close the laptop (and eventually re-open it).