I hate these times.
The times after the end of a contract or project and before the beginning of a new one, when you haven’t been able to figure out what that new one will be. The times I’m in now, with my work placement finished, school far behind me and the future full of uncertainty.
I call these times the comma times. They have their purpose, just like a comma in a sentence. They’re supposed to be a pause for breath, a temporary separation between one clause and the next, a break in the constant flow of words to allow the brain to take stock and to absorb what just happened. Like the pause between clauses, they’re not supposed to last very long, but how long they last is not really defined.
As a freelancer, I do have a use for the comma times. They allow me to explore story ideas I might not have had the time to explore, send “hey, I’m here!” emails to places I have not gotten assignments from in a while, send nagging emails to collect on outstanding invoices and CVs and letters of introduction to organizations that don’t know me. They also give me time to catch up on bureaucracy and household work, get together with friends, and sometimes sleep in.
But I hate these times. Especially if they go on for more than 48 hours. Unless I’ve been working for weeks without a break and-or future long-term plans already include a start date, a salary and an address, I can’t relax. I have no low intermediate gear like some people, who can play Candy Crush for five hours a day or go on long, aimless hikes while between jobs and not think anything of it. Although I admire those people somewhat. I have to have a goal, a project, a plan, or something someone has set up for me. I have to find a pretext to keep going at full speed, because I’m like a top– when I stop spinning, I fall.
So despite the uncertainty, I just have to keep spinning myself around, until something sets me whirling again. Falling would– well, falling would be bad. The constant anxiety is tough but it is a walk in the park compared to what giving up would feel like. So take a breath, but just keep spinning, keep the letters of introduction coming.
I hate these times…