No. 119

Gone Rogue: The Social Downside

Let me tell you: I really love the freedom I’ve discovered working for myself. In August, I spent two weeks in California, visiting with friends and working on the side. I couldn’t imagine how this could be more ideal: I get to be wherever I want, for as long as I want, all because my work easily travels.

Before I started working for myself, I had long daydreams in my cubicle about what it would be like — meeting a friend for a long lunch, taking that 10am barre class because I could, wrapping work up at 4pm so I could have a nice long evening to myself. The reality? I work way more than 40 hours a week and oftentimes, I’m alone.

Coffee shops have been vital to my social interaction, but there are limits to the depth of conversations there. And while I am corresponding with many awesome clients during the course of the day, emails and online interactions aren’t the same as laughing with a friend or co-worker during a break.

I will also admit that I feel the solitude of my work even more since I’ve moved to a new city where I don’t know anyone.

The remedy? Getting creative.

1. I started a Desire Map book club. If you’re not familiar with Danielle LaPorte’s work, I highly recommend it. Getting clear on my core desires led me to quitting my job last April, and it’s carried me to new, unexpected places since. I’ve already met one awesome woman who I connected with as we talked a lot about how important it is to feel good about our decisions and our lives in general.

2. I’ve RSVPed to some free sessions at a local co-working space in March. Co-working spaces are becoming more popular as internet-based occupations have grown, and Roanoke is lucky enough to have three spaces. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that CoLab is the workplace-away-from-home I’ve been dreaming of. (If I were in San Francisco, I’d probably be living at Makeshift Society. New York has some kick-ass spaces as well.)

3.When I went to the World Domination Summit two years ago, I had a total “My People!” moment. I would love to find that here and build a community of creative entrepreneurs who are thinking outside the box, working for themselves, and dreaming big. This is one plan that doesn’t have all of the details worked out yet, but I’m brainstorming.

How have you met awesome new people in your city? And for those freelancers and self-employed out there, what do you do to combat the loneliness of your work?

About brandi

Brandi is a digital strategist, website developer, and founder of Alchemy+Aim, a company that helps entrepreneurs and business owners elevate their online presence and enhance their digital experience. Her academic background in theatre, philosophy and physics was the perfect foundation for launching her business, where she’s worked with Brené Brown, Laverne Cox, Judy Smith, and other notable thought leaders since 2013. She is an advocate for using technology in ways that humanize, connect and serve people as well as for asking deeper philosophical questions and teaching others to think more broadly about impact when they create, particularly in STEAM fields.

7 thoughts on “Gone Rogue: The Social Downside

  1. I know exactly how you feel about needing some sort of social interaction during the day. I found myself bouncing from coffee shop to coffee shop just for that sole purpose. A co-working space sounds like it could be the solution – keep us posted!

  2. I’m having the same issue. I’m feeling very lonely dividing my time between working alone in my studio and hanging out alone with my baby. I didn’t move to a new city, but naps, bed times, and the trouble and expense of a sitter, make it hard to hang out with friends with older kids or no kids and I haven’t found a community of people with kids around the same age.

    I’m inspired by your pro active approach to finding community, and I’m going to start brainstorming ways to do that for myself.

  3. My mom is currently doing design work for a new co-working space in St. Louis, and it looks like it’s going to be awesome! The guys who own the space are super excited about opening and seeing who ends up working there. I love the idea of working in a space where people are working on very different projects – it always sparks unexpected conversations and inspiration.

  4. I totally agree with you Brandi! Working for yourself is amazing because you can basically work anywhere. All I need is my laptop (and maybe a latte) and I am good to get started. But since I’ve worked from home I have a lot less interaction with the world.

    I am lucky to at least be able to eat lunch with my husband everyday (he works 5 minutes away from the house) so that helps me step away from the computer and have some interaction.

    I also try to meet up with another freelance friend that lives close by for coffee at least once a week. It’s a good way to unplug for a little and have a conversation. I also love your idea about a co-working space. I need to look into that to see if there are any in my area.

  5. I hear you, darlin’ (and incidentally, I also miss you). Working for yourself almost always means you work longer hours, because you care a little more deeply and a little more passionately about what you do.I’m still struglling about clocking out: setting more boundaries for myself. The first year was definitely a social challenge. I didn’t even think I was that social of a person but when I suddenly found myself without the humdrum social input of the office, I realized how much I had leaned on that.

    My solution has been to go to lunch more often. Sounds silly, but addressed both issues for me: being by myself a little too much, and being stuck in the house. I set up lunch meets with colleagues and friends, and even have tried out making a new connection over lunch. I’ve also learned that this “superflexible” schedule I thought would be amazing didn’t really work so well for me. Days I do something personal at 9am for a couple of hours are days I have to work even later in the evening. So I have tried to relegate hangouts and meetups and anything that is not work related to lunchtime and evenings only, much like the old office schedule. It helps me get more shit done, but opens me up to have social interaction to break up the day.

  6. Ah! I just emailed you, not knowing exactly where in VA you were. So cool that you’re near me in Blacksburg! I’ve only been living here for about a month, but I’ve been to CoLab a couple times to meet with owners Taylor and Sam (thanks to a networking intro) and take a workshop.
    When I was living near the Bay Area, I actually did some research on co-working spaces for my architectural thesis, and Makeshift was my primary precedent study. They were just starting out and it was amazing to see the welcome they received from the community. I’d love to start a co-working space in Blacksburg if the resources became available.

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Credits

Jane Reaction

(logo and original branding) is a graphic design and art director who works with with small businesses and creative entrepreneurs, creating cohesive and interesting brands and websites.

Carrie Coleman

(photography) is a wedding photographer, whose goal is to capture the visual expression of a couple's love through timeless, organic images. She is based in Charlottesville, Virginia.