13

Forgive me if this is somewhat subjective and feel free to close if it's too broad.

I've been a freelance designer for a bit more than a decade. I work from home. I don't really have any complaints in terms of the projects, work, money, clients, hours, etc. Well, no more complaints than would be considered standard in the course of a week.

However, I find myself terribly isolated and not necessarily by choice.

A bit of background for clarity:

  • I am single, never married, no children, and no immediate family. In fact, only distant family across the country I haven't really seen in 25 years or more.

  • I'm not a drinker. Therefore I tend not to venture out to pubs, bars, or parties.

  • I'm a steadfast atheist so church or religious gatherings are best avoided, otherwise I simply anger people.

  • I don't feel anything on the internet - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, discussion forums, SE - is really socializing. Ultimately you're still by yourself typing. In addition, simply repeating what I do for a living is not a break from work.

  • I know people, well, I know a few couples. But couples don't tend to hang out or socialize much with non-couples. And, while I do take opportunities when they are presented, being the third-wheel can become stale in itself.

  • Customarily, I would meet friends at work or school, neither of which have applied for many years.

  • I thought about taking classes at the local community college or something but do I really want to pay for a class in a subject I could not possibly care less about just to socialize? The local schools offer literally nothing of interest (smaller city without a great deal of diversity).

I'm not lonely, just always alone. I think my work could only improve by being exposed to more social aspects in life.

I find myself always working because I have the time. This has been good for business but not necessarily good for attitude at times.

So, working from home, alone, how does one combat the inevitable isolation which arises?

  • Off the top of my head, you could do some of your regular work (whether designing or paperwork) at a local coffee shop. A gym membership could also be a good thing (if anything, as a stress reliever), and if they have classes, then there's a way to socialize and get fitness done. – Chris Forrence Jul 23 '14 at 21:32
  • 1
    Would you dance, if I asked you to dance? ... Take a course at your local dance school, can be standard ball room dancing or something exotic like merenguee. – user4502 Jul 28 '14 at 23:13
  • atleast you should do some outdoor activity. Visit a park, sit in a coffee soap. You may come-up with discussion with various people. – Atur Jul 29 '14 at 7:03
  • Where do you live? – Paul Dessert Jul 30 '14 at 20:57
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    Opening up would help. Where do you live? There might be people reading this that might live close to you. If so, go grab a cup of coffee – Paul Dessert Jul 31 '14 at 8:29
11

The first few years I was freelancing, I was so happy to not leave the house every day and be around people because I really prefer to be alone.

Then I realized that after a while I was TOO isolated. When I did see people, I felt awkward because I was out of practice. And it helps to be around other people sometimes.

So here are some things I do to combat this:

  • I try to have lunch 1-2 days a week with friends or former colleagues. This is fun and is good for my business, too. Helps me to keep in contact with people who may hear about potential opportunities.
  • I belong the local chamber of commerce, and I go to a couple of events per month.
  • I joined Toastmasters. Since the whole focus is on communication (not just public speaking, but also listening and impromptu talks), this has been great for me.
  • Sometimes I work at a coffee shop instead of at home, just for the change of pace.

I like @ChrisForrence's gym suggestion, too.

10

I live in a city with half a million people and there are startups and small companies who want to share their office. That should exist even in smaller places.

I am mainly a software developer and I share an office with 3 industrial designers and 1 electrical engineer. Not only is it nice to have company, but there is also the advantage of new and interesting input that is not from my field. That means nice lunch breaks and interesting coffee breaks.

You could try to look up "co-working spaces".

5

It is imperative that even while freelancing that you keep your network of people you know growing. It is also important to keep in touch with prior relationships.

I tell my freelancers that they should book, and don't cancel, lunches OUT with a friend or business relationship at least one a week.

Benefits? Your sanity. Meeting new people in your business (who knows where your next assignment will come from). To learn - there is always something interesting to learn from others. Sure, you may lose a billable hour here and there but keeping your mind fresh and moving away from your laptop will be more healthy in the long run

3

I agree with your concern about "getting out of the house". Online social sites really are not satisfying. For me this meant getting out of my comfort zone as I tend to be introverted and had to teach myself conversation skills.

Along with the other suggestions already posted, you might consider doing community volunteerism or look into meetups and possibly a local career networking meeting, meant for unemployed. There are many of these around the country. This form of getting out has the advantage of actually having a meaningful impact on other people's lives, not just socializing.

One other place to look at are some of the the innovation centers that seem to be popping up around the country. These are places where an organization helps small companies get on their feet and launch into the business world. Just show up at their meetings and try schmoozing a little. I don't know where you are located but in my area are the Boulder New Tech and the Innosphere. Both have a different way of doing things and a slightly different type of people they draw. Maybe something similar in your area.

1

A few options:

  • Spend some time at a co-working location during the week. There will be other like minded individuals there.
  • Join a Meetup group in tune with your interests (http://www.meetup.com/)
  • Join a business networking group like BNI.
  • Volunteer your time with seniors, Boy Scouts, or something of that nature.
  • Join Sierra Club and go take a hike!
-1

I'm a freelancer, too, for about 30 years now. I work out of my home. It can be very isolating, so I can appreciate what you're feeling. My husband works outside the home, and when he comes home from work, he often has 1000s of things to tell me about his day, while I just look at him and think....uh...what did I DO today???

Per not going to church because you are an Atheist, I belong to a church that welcomes people of all faiths and no faiths...Unitarian Universalism....Look it up. There may be a Fellowship or congregation near you where you do NOT have to "praise" a higher power, but a place you can express your own thoughts and listen to interesting and thought provoking "sermons" plus have wonderful conversations with new people of like (or non-like) minds. Within many UU churches there are opportunities to become involved in social action, the ecology around you, music, book groups, etc. It can give you the social you may want without the "religion". This has worked for me. Best of luck to you!

  • 2
    Sorry all gatherings of a religious nature are absolutely out of the question. This isn't the place to get into it, but that is never an option regardless of what it's called. I would sooner join a fan club for the tooth fairy. – Scott Jul 31 '14 at 7:24

protected by Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA Jul 31 '14 at 16:15

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