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Freelancing fits my family

Freelancing fits my family

May 25, 2021 By Katie Thompson Freelance

I have struggled with social anxiety almost all of my life. This struggle has impacted my abilities to attend school and to work full-time (or even part-time) in a regular setting. In fact, this anxiety kept me from making a phone call and seeing my doctor about a set of very concerning symptoms for over a month, which resulted in a hospital stay and an autoimmune disorder diagnosis. The most pressing challenge, however, came when I became a single mother of two autistic boys. 

Most parents are always “on call” to a certain degree. Kids get sick at school, or they get in an altercation with another student. Lunches are forgotten, and accidents happen. For us, though, it was a phone call from the school almost daily, not to mention weekly therapy sessions, IEP meetings, specialist appointments, medication refills and adjustments, and a rather large amount of hands-on interventions they both needed from me at home. A fully structured, rigid schedule that required me to be on site and unable to drop everything and run was not an option, but I needed an income.

There were few things that I was able to do while holding one of my sons or sitting with them during their difficult times. Luckily for me, reading was one of these select few activities. I realized that I was able to catch errors in other people’s writing fairly quickly and efficiently. I started doing some research about proofreading and editing, and I made the decision to pursue my bachelor’s degree in English online. 

While the work hasn’t been easy, it has been amazingly rewarding, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time at the University of Phoenix. It works for me. I’m able to participate in discussions that are much less anxiety-inducing via an online forum. I have more control over what I “say” in these discussions, as I can always backspace and reword my argument, and (in most cases) edit the post itself. While there are still deadlines, the flexibility of the schedule allows me to pick and plan my work time more so than a traditional education experience.

Freelance editing gives me the same amount, maybe even a bit more, of freedom. There are deadlines, there are communications, and there are expectations. The work requires a high amount of focus and attention to detail, as well as hours of research. And I love it. Don’t get me wrong, there are several times I’ve had to walk away from my screen in frustration, but I know that I’m helping a writer get their story out into the world. By freelancing, I am able to pick my hours and make adjustments to my own schedule.

Pre-COVID, part of our weekly routine included occupational therapy visits, which left me in a silent waiting room for an hour. This hour was one of my most productive hours in the entire week, as I never had to worry about what my children were doing, whether I was going to have to run off, or whether someone was about to get hurt. I could focus all of my attention on any emails that needed to be sent or go through my list of words and phrases to double-check for consistency. 

Nowadays, of course, things are a bit different, yet I have been able to adapt our schedules because of freelancing. I am able to find time in which I can focus solely on my work, which sometimes means stealing an hour of quiet time when the boys are watching a movie or playing on their tablet, and sometimes it means staying up a few hours after they fall asleep. Sometimes the universe aligns just so, and someone steps in to take the boys for a few hours or even a night or two, leaving me with an empty nest and a full mind. 

There may very well come a day where I could return to a more traditional workforce. I am certainly excited to discover what opportunities await me after gaining my degree. But for now, between my physical and mental health and my kiddos, freelancing is truly the best option for all of us. I am able to work in a field I am passionate about, doing a job that I am genuinely good at, and working with people I admire very much. All the while, I am making sure that my sons receive the services, therapies, and appointments that they need, and receiving my own medical treatments. I truly am living the dream.

Header photo by Jari" class="redactor-linkify-object">https://unsplash.com/@jarispic... Hytönen on Unsplash.

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