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Missing Work
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Last night I experienced a bit of a panic attack. I was surfing the web when it suddenly hit me. I hadn't gone in to work. Not that morning. Not that week, come to think of it. Or even the week before. In fact I hadn't shown up for work since...since...oh my God, how had I overlooked going to the office since 1994!

It was like that recurring dream where I find myself back in school, waiting for an exam to be handed out and suddenly remember I haven't studied, or even attended a single class in...whatever it is! But rather than waking up and giving a sigh of relief at the realization that I'm not back in school after all, I reminded myself that I've survived as a freelancer for almost fourteen years. I'm living whatever nightmares I might have had about what would happen if I stopped showing up for work.

Coincidentally, Mark Terry has a terrific entry today that beautifully summarizes freelance writing for a living -- the pleasures, perils and necessary attitudes.

It can be frightening at times. Most of us become habituated to keeping someone else's schedule, if only because of years of required schooling. So not having to be somewhere every working day can feel wrong.

However, there is nothing wrong with owning your own life. -- setting your own schedule, deciding for yourself what you want to do, rather than taking orders, being able to choose your own work. Sure, sometimes I might choose to take work that I'd prefer not to do. I need the money and it's the best thing on offer right then. Still, knowing I could refuse, if I wanted to, makes even unpleasant decisions more palatable.

At this point, the idea of an employer dictating to me how to spend a big portion of my life seems unnatural. I'm lucky I've been able to avoid that for a few years.

So my panic quickly passed. I didn't have to be at work after all. Didn't even need to call in sick. Now I hope I don't soon have that other recurring dream, the one I have almost as frequently as being unprepared for my school test -- the nightmare where I'm back at the office.

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