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If freelancing were a film, it'd be a superhero movie

We all love stories about the underdog with unique gifts who rises above the fray to conquer insurmountable obstacles. That's why superhero movies are so overwhelmingly popular.

But if you're a freelancer watching one of these films, you may have the sneaking suspicion that if one were to subtract the capes, cowls, and tights, you could be watching your life story writ large...


Like all superheroes, freelancers come with an origin tale. There's a reason you're on this path. At some point you discovered that there is something that you do better than anyone else (web-spinning, summoning thunder, punching up copy), and that the market for it is a specialized one.

The journey towards realizing that you're not meant for a 9-to-5 workweek in a conventional office may not be as flashy as trekking across the frozen tundra to speak to your space scientist father's ghost, but it's a vital chapter in your story, and you need to embrace it. It's why you do what you do.


With this, though, can come an understandable feeling of loneliness. Most of your friends will have been "called" to more seemingly stable and secure lifestyles. They have weekends and things like "structured downtime".

This may lead to a fair amount of brooding (which is superhero movie code for "pouting"). Why have I been chosen for this? Who will understand me?

You may become withdrawn and retreat to your damp cave of flying rodents, or your crystal palace in the Antarctic, or that coffee shop where they know you and let you work in quiet in that booth towards the back.

These are those solitary moments when you grapple with your multiple identities. Freelancers must be many things to many people, and introspection comes with the territory.


This is the point in all the best superhero movies when our protagonist is tempted to pack it all in in favor of a "normal life". Usually, a love interest is the catalyst for these decisions, and that's something freelancers can, on occasion, identify with.
Does the nature of your life and work make you too much of a loner? With so many people to please, can you focus on that special someone? Can the uncertainty of the lifestyle possibly make you a candidate for "good provider" status? If you aren't committing to conventional employment, can you commit, period?

Eventually, though, the hero can no longer avoid his or her true calling, and loved ones tend to come around. Heck, the best partners usually dig the fact that the objects of their affection don't play by the rules. It's all about finding the right fit.


Of course, any superhero worth their price of admission knows that with great power also comes great responsibility to not only your cause, but also your community. Very often, in the end of any given superhero film, the cape- crusader-of-the-moment will have to testify before Congress, sit down for an interview (hello, Lois Lane) or come down to the station house and explain that he or she is not a threat to the way of life that the citizenry values most.

Freelancers, too, have to pop their heads into the conference room every so often and make sure that the folks around them understand that they mean no harm. You're not looking to put anyone out of a job or usurp anyone's power or burn a hole through anyone with your death ray eyes. It's all about harmony. You simply smile and let them know you're there to help.


There are always more assignments to be filled, more clients to network with, and baddies to defeat (even if those baddies are just typos). As a super-freelancer, you’re called to be of service to the people and projects who need you most. So take pride in being the underwear-suited hero of this particular flick... and take to the sky.

(Music swells... Fade to black.)

Kate Shea Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily.