I think that one of the biggest misconceptions about working from home or working for yourself is that it’s somehow luxurious.

Sure — I’ll own the fact that I’ll occasionally take a longer break for lunch to catch up on my TiVo, or that every once in a while, I’ll let myself stay in bed until 8:30 (for someone like me who has sleep issues and is used to a 5AM wake-up call, I assure you that this feels like cheating), but those occasions are absolutely the exception, and not the rule. To be successful in any endeavor when you’re both boss and employee, you have to be self-motivated and in a constant state of *hustle* (I say this with authority because my fellow freelance friends and I have talked about it at length).

Early on, I’ll confess that I did notice a decrease in that pesky word that we all use all the time: STRESS. I was still trying to lock down gigs and get my name out there, and to put it bluntly, there was absolutely zero demand for my work at that point. I was working hard, but I didn’t need to — I was getting things off the ground and wanted to prove (to myself, mostly) that I could make a full-time job out of writing.

Three months later, I can confidently say that stress is once again a factor in my life. I barely realized it was happening, but suddenly, in the middle of last week, it hit me: just like in my old job, I’m back to feeling the pull of what sometimes feels like a million demands and deadlines.

Just like in my “real talk” post, I promise I’m not taking this as an opportunity to complain. If anything, feeling stressed again felt a little like a blessing — a milestone to mark the fact that I’m now at the point in my (still very young, immature) writing career where my work has enough interest that I need to deliver.

What does this mean for all of you other stressed people out there? It’s a reminder that, while feeling stress can be well, stressful, it’s also a sign that you’re doing good work and that what you’re doing is valued and in demand. I know it can be hard to see that perspective when you’re in a constant rotation of projects and deadlines and meetings and family drama and relationships, but as someone who took a step out of that loop and gradually came back in, I’m here to tell you that what you’re doing is important, which is why you feel the pressure to do it at all. That being said, you deserve a break, and I hope you have a chance to take one over the upcoming holidays. You’ve definitely earned a chance to curl up with a good book and a plate of Christmas cookies, and to take a minute to reflect on all of the butt-kicking things you’ve been doing recently — because I’m sure you’re doing plenty. 

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I just wanted to let you know : )