It’s a familiar stomachey feeling, Sunday Night Dread, isn’t it?
You’ve had an amazing weekend, filled with rest and relaxation or socialising and exploring. You’ve felt content, happy and free from work distractions. But then 4pm on a Sunday hits and BAM there it is.
The realisation that the weekend is drawing to a close. That you have a week ahead of working to the bone. That you’ve got projects looming, deadlines hanging and bosses pressuring you to WORK HARDER.
It’s a feeling that can stop you, mid-Sunday-Roast and wipe that gravy-laden smile right off your face in realisation that you’ll probably have to have an early night because we all know how awful Tired Mondays are.
Perhaps you don’t get it. Perhaps you love your job and can’t wait to get back to it. Perhaps your work life is better than your weekend life. Perhaps you’re one of those people who work at a cinema and JUST LOVE telling people they can’t take their own snacks in.
Or perhaps you think that if you were just to pack it all in, to join the freelance way of life, that it would all be different.
I’m here to firmly shit on that parade and tell you, sorry, it’s certainly different but Sunday Night Dread is still a thing, even when you’re your own boss.
Freelancers get a lot of shit from, ‘working people’. From someone who used to work 60-70 hours a week as a teacher and had every waking moment of thought preoccupied with REPORTS and MARKING and PLANNING and DO I HAVE ENOUGH TISSUES IN CASE ALEX SHITS HIMSELF AGAIN, I totally get it.
It seems like the dream way of life. No boss to answer to. No hours to keep to. No orders to adhere to. And sometimes you can get alllll of the shit done, whilst in your pants.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s TOTALLY all of these things. But the Sunday Night Dread still creeps in.
Because with this lifestyle, you’re your own boss. So whilst no one is directing you. The shit that used to roll firmly downhill, now settles with you and surrounds you, threatening to bury you in one big shit heap of your own making.
And sure, you can make your own hours. But are you really going to be able to pay the rent, save, keep the electricity on and y’know, eat, if you decide that for 12 days on the bounce you’re going to clock in at 12pm and back out at 1?
So this is how the Sunday Night Dread is different.
As a freelancer, your salary, success and sanity is 100%, solely, exhaustingly in your control and yours only. So much so, that even taking a weekend break can feel like you’re having a ‘day off’.
The dread is different because whereas a lot of my old dread came from worrying that I was going to get, ‘found out’ for being awful at my job (and I know EVERYONE gets this), freelance dread is worrying that this is going to be the week that you find out what you already think you know – that you’re awful at your job.
(You’re not it’s the dread but you get me)
The dread is different because you know that one decision, one email, one move could be the difference between success and total failure. There are no co-workers to clean up your mess. No policies in place to ensure that you won’t be binned by a client and often no financial safety nets like a ‘base salary’ to rely on.
Not really knowing what the week ahead will bring is daunting too. When I was teaching, I know I had to teach English and Maths every day and that Science was on a Wednesday afternoon. I knew when I’d get my marking done and which day I’d get time to do planning.
But on a Sunday night, when you’re looking at a diary that is quite sparse, it’s a different feeling, to get yourself in the mindset of, ‘right I need to do x on Monday, make all the money on Tuesday, send some emails on Wednesday and chase those pesky invoices at 11:12am.’
And it can lead to a crippling bout of self doubt. When you know that your week is totally what you make it but you feel like you’re never going to ‘make it’, it can make the next 7 days seem totally scary.
Sure, working for yourself, being your own boss and building your own business is rewarding in many many many ways. But to pretend that it’s all lie ins, brunches, 2 day weeks and win after win would be a big, fat lie.
We’re all battling, or have battled an element of Sunday Night Dread in our time. We just need to make sure that our time away from work is as positive as possible.
That we beat Sunday Night Dread by doing things that make us happy. That we get Sunday Night Fed, before retiring to Sunday Night Bed because Sunday Night Vix Said that we’re all doing Sunday Night Incred.
And don’t forget to get your Sunday Night Head
And if you fancy a read that updates you on my mental health journey, especially since going freelance – have a read here.