As if living in a country where everyone wants to educate you on your own job wasn’t aggravating enough, the convenience of social media and messaging apps coupled with Lebanese people’s generally gregarious nature culminated into a growing trend of clients assuming they can have access to you at all times.
The lines between professional and personal are more blurred than ever. And when you dare stand up for your freelancer self amid a silent crowd of self-inflicted subordinates, then you’re automatically labelled arrogant and cordially advised to keep it ‘down to earth’, as if you’ve ever even had enough creative freedom to lift up your head from the ground in the first place.
It’s time to draw upon our ‘arrogance’ to set a few records straight. The manipulative practice whereby people think they have control over your time and resources just because you chose to work with them on a particular project has become a widespread problem that requires collective action from within the freelancing community.
A freelancer is not your personal assistant, paying for their expertise does not allow you any type of control over their lifestyle.
You find yourself losing yourself. Your moments are no longer yours. Your inbox has leaked into your private life. Getting an instant phone call to remind you of a WhatsApp voice note sent two minutes ago to explain a 3-hour old non-urgent email about a task you already understood is a perfectly normalized chain of events.
It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing or how you’re feeling. Your ‘support’ and ‘flexibility’ are expected at all times in every way because apparently ‘other people are doing so’ and anything other than what other people are doing is perceived as an act of defiance.
Do not allow clients to bash your work ethic as a freelancer over nonsensical expectations like having to answer instantly over WhatsApp, be on-call 24/7 or deliver tasks in 15 minutes. This is NOT the norm and will never be. Perpetual urgency is the gravestone of creativity.
And it looks like we’re in desperate need of resurrection.