There comes a time in every freelancer's life where they must do the thing they perhaps most fear doing: stop working.
Yes, there must be a pause in the schedules we have set up so seamlessly to get us through the work week and enable us to be our most productive for, truthfully, if there isn't, we simply won't be able to produce work anymore. And then we'll be useless. So part of this grand productivity is to be productive in another way, to produce in ourselves a sense of relaxation and pause so we can produce more later.
And let me tell you, it is difficult. When you've wired yourself to get up everyday and answer to yourself at a certain hour for fear you will make a mess of this entire freelancing business into which you've entered, stopping seems a sacrilege. So you have to make yourself answer to a new kind of self, one who simply won't take 'work' for an answer, much as you've conditioned yourself previously to not take 'relax' for an answer.
So here I am in South Florida, writing from my parents' kitchen table, overlooking all sorts of strange trees we don't have in New York, wearing my bathing suit and thinking about how much work I'm absolutely not going to do today. I have been doing all sorts of unheard of things since I arrived: lying out in the sun, watching Doris Day movies and back to back to back episodes of The Big Bang Theory on demand, eating French food and Cheetos and pausing in the middle of the day to read a book, of all things. I hardly know who I am anymore--how does one do nothing?
Last weekend I worked every day; in fact, I had been working for 10 days straight before I left New York Wednesday evening. There is something about New York that completely disables my 'do nothing' factor. I am never home just sitting around watching television during the day (at night, it's a different story, as I recently went through the entire series of Freaks and Geeks on Netflix and have become newly obsessed with this brilliant but canceled series). The days are for working, the nights are for not working, if possible--often I am working an eight hour day plus whatever event I attend in the evening to write about or to photograph. But here...little work is happening, and that's the way it's supposed to be. I have been here three days and already my inner moral compass is failing--or is it not failing? I am, essentially, forcing myself to relax and it is stressing me out.
I think if I had not earned the title 'New Yorker' before, I certainly have now. I had a glass of wine on the beach yesterday. WHO AM I?? New York, we are often told, is the city that never sleeps, and it is 100% true--because when the city is not sleeping, why should we be? We keep working and working and working until we have nothing left and we fall apart. Ultimately, though, what we need to do is program ourselves to relax, to understand that what we're doing is not bad or incorrect: it is simply necessary so we can keep going later on.
So, New Yorkers, if you have the chance to relax on occasion, be it for only a Saturday spent lolling about on your couch or for a trip to see your family or a weekend getaway to the Hamptons, please do so. You'll find yourself rejuvenated and ready to take on your life anew, freelancer or not. It'll just take some getting used to--relaxation, for us folk, doesn't come easy. But once you start, I promise you'll get the hang of it.