I asked Northumberland based freelance writer and creative Sarah Fae to share some of her 'career' journey with us.
Her honest story shares a little talked about battle behind the scenes of managing a freelance career as a neuro-diverse creative.
"What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, more unashamed conversation." Glenn Close
You can register (for free) for our next ONLINE event' "If not now then when" to hear Sarah Fae and three other creatives share more of the peaks and troughs of navigating a freelance career by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about it here.
Gigs 'n' Stints by Sarah Fae
Working as a freelancer affords me great freedom. It allows me to pick and choose who I work with, where I do it and for how long. It also enables me to manage my mental health. You see, traditional workspaces are not healthy or productive places for me. Lord knows I’ve tried.
By the time I was 21 I’d been sacked nine times. It was the running joke amongst my family and friends as I frequently entertained them with obscure tales of lateness and lousy bosses.
“Tell us about the time you worked at the fireworks counter in Asda on New Year’s Eve and lost the key for the fireworks container out the back.”
I was, to them, as irresponsible as they come.
Nothing confirmed this more than the abrupt end of my five-year stint in broadcasting in January 2010 when I was still (the next day) too drunk to do my show. Had I been on Radio 1 on location in Ibiza that might have catapulted my stardom, instead it rendered me unemployed (and unemployable). My stint on the airways was over.
To the onlooker I was “reckless” but deep down I was hurting. The inability to keep time and fall in line a likely by-product of undiagnosed PTSD, this, compounded by my use of alcohol was a catastrophic concoction.
Self-sabotage and self-employment do not a creative make.
Fast forward a decade later and alongside a daily dose of yoga I now feel much more able to function in this world and meet its demands without sacrificing my peace of mind. The boundaries are clearly set. I know my limits.
For instance, I need a lot of sleep, not because I am lazy but as result of being extra sensory perceptive. That means I can’t take on long-term work that starts before 10am. That means I can’t work in traditional workspaces. This means I freelance.
Besides the world is not set up for people who are sensory sensitive, right brain dominant, or the newly coined ‘neuro diverse,’ especially the working world. I quietly envy those who can work the 9-5, freelancing might afford you great freedom but rarely a mortgage.
Yet I have found peace in my path and security in the unconventional, like a lucky little frog leaping from one opportunity to another. Yes, it always involves some risk but somehow (likely because I am now sober) I always seem to land in the right place, with the right people and on my feet.
You see it’s not a career- it’s a stint.
It’s never a job but a gig.
This is how we do it.
(and it’s no less valuable than any other traditional way of working).
Welcome to the world of the self-employed (sober) creative.
Photo - Hexham Library, December 2021
Sarah Fae lives in a chapel on Hadrian’s Wall and spends her time writing children’s stories, and features for a local magazine on spiritual and social issues. She credits practicing and teaching yoga for the last eight years for keeping her sane as well as offsetting “the laptop hunch.” Sarah also manages Airbnb lets in the village where she lives. “I find cleaning SO therapeutic, it gives me a physical structure to allow my mind to wander, which means lots listening and learning from Audible!”
You can find Sarah on Instagram