Traditional corporate America is crumbling. Morgan Stanley predicts that by 2027 “freelance workers may represent 50% of the U.S. working population.”
Everybody knows at least someone who drives for Uber or Lyft, Doordash or Grubhub, rents out for Airbnb, repairs or charges scooters for Lime or Bird, picks up creative work on Fiverr, Freelancer, Thumbtack or Upwork, sells goods on Amazon (or delivers for them!), Ebay, or Etsy. Let’s not forget those individuals who make money off of Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram. And if you don’t know any of those people, I can introduce you to half of my Facebook.
But why? Why are Americans drawn to the freelancer/independent contractor lifestyle?
I recently chose to leave my job as a professional writer and boss lady in the corporate world.
Currently, I am directing a children’s show and supervising a garden center during the day. I am still a boss lady, but I have a new market for my skills–the local Kansas market. I left behind the global world of clients, many of whom English was their second or third language. Instead of sitting at a desk all day, I’ve been building a perimeter wall, unloading plants, and running a register. In the evenings I get to play games with kids, supervise the learning of songs and dances, and talk to parents about my vision for the paint colors of certain blocks to be used on stage. On the weekends I film weddings, movies and other events.
I fall into bed at night exhausted with a smile on my face.
You think I’m kidding? How could I possibly be happier working in the dirt and selling flowers to Kansans than writing business content for people all over the world and managing a team of writers?
Because I am my own boss and the only person who can make me feel stupid, discouraged and pointless is me.
There is a famous quote from Princess Diaries, but apparently it’s also a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt;
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.
The corporate world is full of people who will fight for their cup of tea at every intersection. Life in an office may be physically sedentary, but mentally and emotionally you ride into a battle every day.
Traditional corporate America is convinced that they are doing Important Work. This Important Work is far greater than blue collar work or retail or agriculture or whatever else. And because it is Important Work, office culture is a bloodbath every day.
I’m sure there are freelancers out there who will take your head off with a proverbial sword at any opportunity. But as a whole, the freelancing economy is growing because people realized that they didn’t have to deal with “join our fight against those inferior to us” behavior everyday, and chose to work for themselves in a positive manner instead.
Inferiority seems to be a theme with me lately. You can check out my previous post on The Way You Treat Your Inferiors. Someone pointed out to me that it sounded like I was implying that certain types of people are inferior to others.
So let me say this: No one is inferior to you and you are inferior to no one on earth.
But some people are less fortunate or extremely fortunate in comparison. For example, there are homeless people standing on street corners across from the offices of some of the wealthiest people in my city.
Those homeless people are no less valuable or important simply based off of their income or lack thereof. Those lawyers or marketing directors are no more valuable or important simply based on their income or social standing.
It doesn’t matter what job you do or how much money you make or even who hears/reads your words. Your and my value is not based on our accomplishments, not in the eyes of God. Our value is inherent, intrinsic, invaluable. Because our value is given by God, not by people.
People who believe they are more valuable than other people are not the kind of people you want to work with or for, because they will fight with you every single day.
At the moment, instead of going to war in an office, I am choosing to try to follow the great words of Ian Maclaren,
Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
It is better to be kind, than to go to war against your fellow office worker, because everyone is fighting a battle against themselves already.
And me, like all my friends who joined the freelancer economy, needed a break from the bloodbath of those who believe they are doing Important Work.
Jessie is a writer, filmmaker, long boarder, sister, teacher, friend, daughter, laugher, aunt, Christ-follower, eater and occasional blogger with an eye on becoming an avid traveler. Check out some of Jessie’s latest film work here.