Things are feeling definitively old-school around here because this post is coming at you from my train ride home.

I told you!

Just like the-time-before-Instagram, I’m penning an of-the-moment outfit post(!!) and offloading some musings from my fairly mundane Monday.

Photographs by Kaye Ford

I had a bit of an epiphany earlier today when I was sat on my 7.40 train to London Kings Cross, absentmindedly tipping my KeepCup upside down (not on purpose!) and somehow narrowly missing my Chloé Drew bag of its oat milk coffee contents.

You see, I was evidently still begrudging having to join the commuting ranks and REALLY missing my 2-second commute. But then again, a couple of hundred thousand people doing the same thing as me can’t be wrong.

Thankfully, there is no right or wrong.

For the past three years, a slow working routine and nurturing client relationships whilst actively building my business was just-right for that season in my life. And right now, in this season, the nine-to-five grind slots in nicely too. Balance and all that.

In a post a few weeks ago, I mentioned my poor and struggling mental health as a result of my lifestyle. Whilst I’d planned on producing a whole piece about that, I really don’t know enough to write a full-blown article so to remove any possible confusion about what’s fact and what’s opinion, I’m going to touch on it today.

There’s already an existing dialogue about self-employed culture, and by and large, unpaid invoices are what’s bringing the community together. It’s become the new ‘exciting email’ and ‘opportunity I can’t wait to share with you soon’. But, and excuse the pun, at what cost?

Personally, I must admit that I joined the ranks briefly.

[Insert Tweets]

But then I rethought my online image and wanted to stay away from that trope because, hey, my past, current and future clients are here, and I also foolishly convinced myself that if I didn’t talk about it, I might actually start being paid on time/at all.

To date, I am owed a five-figure digit from endless invoices and multiple clients within my business. What was once a healthy and profitable – I mean, technically it still is! – business became something that preyed on my mind all day.

“I completed this project/brief/feature to deadline 4 months ago, why am I at the bottom of the pecking order?”

“I’ve excitingly seen the creatives of this brief go live on the streets and in stores, and seen the wrap-up… Where is my invoice?”

Did you know? I haven’t been paid, business wise, since November?

I don’t blog full-time because Daisybutter doesn’t earn a stable income and it certainly doesn’t bring in enough cash to keep the cogs in this semi-oiled machine running. But, from November onwards, it’s somehow, just about, solely kept me afloat and kept our fridge stocked.

Something that isn’t spoken widely about is the stress of financial security. Of panicking constantly because Direct Debit day is coming up and, nope I haven’t been paid. Of an important birthday of a loved one coming up and, nope I haven’t been paid. Having to borrow money here to pay off a Direct Debit there. Constantly turning down off-the-cuff dinner invites because I didn’t know whether spending that £15 would bite me in the ass next month because, guess what? I hadn’t been paid.

This week marks my third week of freelancing in-house.

I did this last year for a long stint (I worked for F&F on their website until they unceremoniously closed down, and I also used to work there full-time!). I also strongly believe that the nine-to-five routine shouldn’t be looked down upon at all. I loved the feeling of knowing I was on a real payroll and not having to wait for PO’s to be raised and processed. I loved having colleagues to bounce ideas off of and chat about last night’s TV again. I also enjoyed having some sort of schedule that I hadn’t made up myself?

Now? I love my team. I like catching up on everyone’s evenings, lengthy chats about which snack we’ll each have at 3pm, and all of that mundane business. I also like returning home and either heading straight to the gym, or opening up my laptop and working on some client work or churning out a blog post.

What I’ve learned is that it’s always in the balance. At the start of the year I wrote that I was hoping to quit my freelance life and go back to traditional work.

Right now? I don’t think I will (:

There isn’t a greater feeling for me than going through these seasons of hardship, growing through the rain and trusting the magic of new beginnings. It just took me one or two commutes with forgotten headphones (can someone just Tweet me at 6.25am every day and remind me that my new phone doesn’t have an audio jack?!) to remember how magical life is when you can steer it in whichever direction you want.*

Love, Michelle x

*And also when you get paid once in a while and can afford a grocery shop!

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