Today’s guest on this freelancer series is Lauren Brooker from itslaurenvictoria. I have been following her blog for a year or so now and really resonate with her journey as a freelancer who feels a bit overwhelmed with the pressures that come along with that lifestyle. She’s always been open about discussing her mental health issues and that’s made me feel that much more comfortable sharing my own on this blog.
1) How has your mental health affected they way you approach your job/ career?
For a good number of years, my mental health stopped me from working. I never felt good enough for any job that I considered or went to apply for which saw me avoiding going for any opportunities altogether. I knew I couldn’t work a ‘normal’ 9 to 5 job in the industry I was interested in because I just didn’t have the confidence nor was I well enough to do so.
So instead I decided to embark on the journey of freelancing. Although it took me nearly a year to actually go through with the idea of being a freelancer. In that time I had to build up the confidence and belief within myself to actually kick start my journey.
Freelancing has definitely been a gentle way of building my confidence and challenged me in ways that I somewhat control. It has given me freedom and the choice to decide what I dedicate my time to and who I dedicate my time to. Because of this I still have the time to look after my mental health and do the things I know help me to be in a better place.
2) What do you like and dislike about being a freelancer?
I love the freedom and how rewarding it is. I love being able to control what I do with my day and how well it works with looking after my mental health. As I mentioned, it has helped me to grow in confidence and to step out of my comfort zone at my own pace. I love being able to help people and make a difference to them. It’s lovely building relationships and seeing people you've helped grow.
If I had to say I disliked something it would probably be the fear of not having anyone wanting to work with you especially when I struggle with confidence. It can be hard to pick yourself up when times are quiet. But it only challenges me more to grow in confidence and find the right people who I can help make a difference to.
3) During a particularly stressful week, what do you find to be the best way to recharge and to realign your mental health?
I definitely try to take a step back from things which might mean not taking on so much and actually learning to rest properly. I’ll do small activities that I love to do that I know make me feel better and help me to unwind like reading, watching a new tv series, going on a walk or even just being around my loved ones helps to ground me.
If I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed I like to have a big planning and organisation session. I’ll grab my notebook and my diary and I’ll write a list of everything I want to do, anything I have coming up, important tasks I still need to do or even just random thoughts I have circling around my head that I need to get out. It really helps me to see things clearer and bring me a sense of clarity. I hate not knowing what I’m doing so this really does help me to feel back on track with things.
4) What would you want other new freelancers to know about the process, whether good or bad?
I would want other new freelancers to be open-minded. You never know how things will work out and yes this can be incredibly daunting but at the same time, great opportunities can arise. If you’re aware of how things could go either in your favour or not working out, then you can be more accepting of the situation and still hold onto the inner belief that you are good enough when things don’t work out. This will help to push you forward and continue going.
5) Do you have any advice for when you go through slumps with your creativity or motivation?
Whenever I’m in a creative rut or feeling unmotivated I try to take a step back. There is no point trying to force it. It will show and it’s exhausting trying to keep up with something that just isn’t working. Instead, I’ll take a step back, either go about my days like usual which sometimes can result in me finding new ways to get inspired in the most unexpected times and ways. It’s totally normal to go through slumps with your creativity and motivation. We’re not machines and we all need moments to recharge. I actually love taking a break and coming back with a newfound passion. So be patient with yourself. Good things will come.
6) How do you balance the pressures of social media with your personal goals and image offline?
I’ve been thinking about this recently. I have tried to be a lot more mindful as to what kind of content I am consuming and how often I am consuming content. I find Twitter a really toxic platform so I tend to limit the amount of time I spend on there as well as what type of content I engage with. If not, I find it can have a really negative effect on my mood, how I feel about myself and it can make me feel so overwhelmed.
I much prefer spending my time on Instagram. I find it so supportive and more of a community which I love. The relationships I have made and built on there makes it an enjoyable experience for me personally.
If I ever feel myself begin to compare myself to those online in terms of where I am at in life and where they are at, I’ll take a step back and remind myself that we’re all on different journeys, that I have chosen mine and that I am grateful for what I have been through because it has helped me grow as a person so much. It really helps to ground me and to remind myself that I am good enough.
I also try to be as real as possible on social media by showing the good as well as the bad. Life isn’t a highlight reel like an Instagram feed may suggest. I try to be open as much as I possibly can because it is important for me to do so. I don’t want someone to look at my feed and think her life is perfect before then going on to put themselves down. I would hate someone to do that. So I try to show the true reality of my life as comfortably as I feel I can.
7) At this point in your freelance journey, is there anything you would have done differently when starting out?
If I could have, I would have probably started sooner! I wish I had the confidence to just go for it when I had the idea the first time but I know that I probably wasn’t ready at the time. It is so important to feel ready and have that confidence to drive you. But I think I definitely could have probably sold myself more when it comes to promoting my services and my work. It has taken me only recently to put myself out there more because it does take a lot to have the confidence to shout out your own work often when you’re not used to it as such.