Finally freelance

You know when you wake up in different surroundings and, for the first few seconds, think you’re still at home? Well, my alarm has gone off every morning this week, and every morning I thought I was dreaming it.

I feel for my phone and squeeze all of its buttons in the hope of pressing the one that will bring back the silence. I run my fingers over the Sellotape holding the buttons together as I remember the information that seven hours of broken sleep has pushed away.

I get ready with precision, forcing an unnatural delicacy upon my limbs in a half-hearted attempt to not wake anyone up. I inevitably half-drop my mug onto the kitchen counter as I make coffee, and throw my make-up brushes out of my hand and down the hallway as I go to open the door.

As the light outside lifts to its full form, I transform into a presentable grown-up. Yes, I might be hiding a box of raisins reminiscent of primary school lunch boxes, Ribena and a Malteaster Bunny inside my bag, but on the outside I look like a person who’s going to work. A person with responsibilities and a schedule so busy she feels the need to have a calendar on her laptop and a permanent frown.

I’m not that person, but it’s nice to feel like it, even if it’s only for the duration of my walk to work. Yes, work. If you read my last blog post you’ll know things were getting pretty ugly – but, for this week and next, I’ve been given a much-needed break from the self-loathing depths of job-searching. 

I’m halfway through a two-week freelance job, and it's already reminding me of what it feels like to be a functioning grown-up. It has also taught me a lesson in accepting transiency. Two weeks is a tiny amount of time – but rather than dread the drop back down to unemployed reality, I'm just enjoying it.

In my morning daze, the blissfully green 20-minute walk to work almost tricks me into forgetting I’m in London. I leave the flat, turn my back on the skyscrapers in the skyline and walk towards the park. A few suited men on bikes and mums hidden behind prams mingle into one as I wonder how different our days will be.

Once I reach the park, the view spreads out in front of me and it’s wider than my eyes are used to. I walk down the footpath at a pace that would make people on the other side of London want to kill me. It’s only been five days, but I’ve already named one group of four humans and four weirdly similar-looking dogs as Dog Club.

I walk past Dog Club and smile at the dogs. I’m still afraid to give any eye contact to Londoners, especially before 9 am. But the cuteness of the dogs is soon offset by the abundance of crows on the ground. Every morning I tell myself they’re just innocent animals, but to look at them is to look in the face of pure evil.

On Wednesday morning I see an unlikely friendship blossom between an enthusiastically gesticulating northern man and a slightly more uptight, better-dressed Londoner. They reach the end of the park, politely enquire after the names of each other’s dogs and part with the promise to see each other again soon. I try to disguise my smile as something hay fever-related, but they're not looking, anyway. New friends only have eyes for each other.

Once I reach the end of the park, I cross the road to walk the last part of the journey and I have the pavement almost entirely to myself for the full three minutes. As I turn into work, a milkman says good morning to me.

I press the buzzer and open the gate while I think about all the tiny things that have put me in a good mood before my day's even really begun. Two strangers making friends, cute dogs, a seemingly insignificant hello from a stranger – and I realise how living in a big city has lowered my expectations of human interaction and heightened the likelihood of them making me feel less lonely.

And just as I wonder about how funny life can be, I walk past a studio with a live camel standing inside, and climb onto the boat, down the stairs, and open up my laptop as I throw my bag on the desk.


  1. Congrats on the freelance work. Enjoy that last week, and make it count. I love your description of walking to work. I've never had the pleasure, as I've always had to drive to all of my jobs. I think walking and taking everything in better prepares you for your day than driving through rush hour traffic.

  2. Thank you! Oh god, sitting in rush hour traffic does not sound fun. Although I'm still going to remain wary of the crows, you never know what they're capable of.

  3. Hey Jessica,

    I just wanted to say it took me ages to find work i wanted after uni, so I know how difficult job searching can be. It was a very difficult period of my life and I regret that I was incredibly hard on myself. I had one goal and everything else could wait (bad idea).

    But I can confidently say that the experience was enlightening, i learnt a lot about myself and I feel stronger for it in the long run.

    The other thing was, i'm also a northerner, do you like living in London or do you find it a little too harsh?