Every now and then, I entertain the possibility of employment, especially when I feel overwhelmed by the amount of hours I put in as a freelancer. I imagine myself showing up to an agency, clocking in, working more or less normal work hours (which I do try to keep as a freelancer also), and getting paid. But it struck me that what I like about working on creative projects is the collaboration, working with others on cool projects. What I don't like is being dependent on those same people for my living. I will work with and for many people, but I will not be anybody's employee.
There are a lot of us out there — people who are freelancers not only because they want to work for themselves, but also because they actually couldn't hold a so called real job even if they wanted to. There's something in us that, for whatever reason, can't function within a salaried position. For some, it's the freedom to call the shots. For others, it's about the infinite opportunities afforded to those not bound to a single employer with their own bottom line to mind. Personally, I couldn't even hold a retainer contract or sell my time. When people ask me what my day rate is, I cringe a little bit, because I can't just block out a workday to a single employer. I don't work "by the hour". I have bursts of focus but also lots of moments where I need to switch gears and do so called non-billable tasks (like write a blog post).
I do not mean at all to disparage or belittle those who are employees and employers. I do not mean to disparage freelancers who do take on retainers or sell their time by the hour or day. We are all trying to make a living, and we all have our own priorities that make certain situations more advantageous and desirable. But for me, I prefer a relationship to my clients and other business partners that feels less dependent, more collaborative and equal in a sense. I feel stronger and more empowered to make intuitive, non-fear-based decisions when I am working businessperson-to-businessperson. Put me under the roof of an employer, and you just might see me acting like someone who's moved back to his parent's place but still wants to run the house.