It’s been a rough month or so. My travel schedule has been brutal, my future work prospects, dismal. I’m not crying or anything. I know I’m far better off than the vast majority of people. That said, looking into the near future, I find myself looking down the barrel of large swaths of unbooked time.
This is an unfamiliar experience for me. Since I started freelancing, back in 2005, only once have I found myself without enough work that left me concerned with my future…the first 4 months. That quickly turned into the rat race that my life has been since.
The majority of the companies that I contract for are experiencing the same thing I am, low bookings. The difference is, they have a much wider reach, and a deeper client base to draw on. They’re not busy, but they’re keeping their full timers working. That means less work for people like me.
On the client end, no one wants to deal with the potential media fallout, or get called irresponsible in a time when so many are cutting back. This leaves people and companies, like myself, hounding the people and companies that ARE doing events. From there it turns to a bidding war that will ultimately devalue the work I do, and cause me to have to make less for the same, or more, work.
I don’t know what to call this. Is it simple oversupply and underdemand, or is it deflation? Is a hole being dug that will take us years to dig out of? Is this same thing happening throughout the entire economy, or are the people with money holed up with their checkbooks clinched tightly in their hands, waiting for an “opportunity”?
Saying “opportunity” like that makes me feel dirty. In this context, it’s a double-edged sword. Whose back is being broken to create this “opportunity”? What is the workforce as a whole losing at the hands of this supposedly forthcoming “opportunity”? In my world, a real “opportunity” doesn’t come at the expense of a large group of people. That’s called exploitation.
It bothers me more because there are things that I want to do. Places (not necessarily physical) I want to go, outside of work. I’ve been fortunate enough over the past several years to be able to spend my time, what little I have had outside of my work life, doing things that contribute to the community. I want to do more of this. This is the place I want to eventually go.
Up ‘til now, I’ve said that the time wasn’t right. That either I wasn’t ready or that something wasn’t in place to make this an option. Some of it has to do with money, some with really enjoying a lot of what I do most of the time. As hectic and chaotic as my life is, there’s a part of me that thrives in this environment. I’ve never been involved in anything quite like it.
I feel I need the chaos to keep from stagnation, but while what’s happening right now with the economy, and with certain elements in the political arena may seem chaotic, it doesn’t read like chaos. It reads more like mass suicide, and that is more troubling than anything I’ve experienced since the era of seemingly imminent mutually assured destruction.
In the end, I’m not necessarily pessimistic about my future, or the future of the country. I honestly feel that things will have to get better eventually. At the same time, I don’t see a realistic endgame being communicated to the public. I don’t feel much discipline being enforced. I hear a lot of emotional “red meat” rhetoric being put forth, but I’m not seeing how the variables of the equation are being reconciled to give us a real, workable solution.
That’s the crux of my anxiety, and I think, the anxiety that many are currently feeling. Anxiety can be comforted for a time with emotions, but eventually, the root of the problem causing the anxiety has to be addressed, and until it is, nothing we do will make any of this any better.