The best part of the Gig Life, for me, has been drawing from the well of self-confidence as I surf between gigs. First days aren’t so stressful. I can trust that I’ll produce good work, make new friends, and see new sights. Sure, the anxiety is there; it’s just easier to jump into the unknown. I am also the storyteller of my narrative. Everyone I meet knows I write now. I’m not as shy anymore…
I’m reclusively introverted.
Yet, I’ve adapted to the various microcultures that comprise 201X business. Some companies will bleed money to expedite a process, while others will bleed money in red tape. Some have needed me to talk to executives, chief officers, and the key people running the show. Others have blocked communication based on role. Caste, casual, corporate… good old boys, startups… big city, small town… while I have my preferences, at the end of the day, I’m there to build my self-confidence.
That includes friendships and skillsets.
You’re going to work with some of these people for months. Might as well dig what they’re doing. When you find common ground with a colleague, it’s like making new friends. My quickest route to getting good with new colleagues is to help out and let them tell me their stories. When they feel comfortable giving me work and telling me about themselves, I reciprocate, and it usually works out. Otherwise, I keep my head in my work. I haven’t made friends on every gig I’ve worked; just most of them.
Photography is a nice, neutral hobby.
I’ve photographed hundreds of thousands of things over the years. Carpooling? Photograph cool sights for the driver. Take the bus? Find interesting sights, like the photo above. Work in the city? Try taking photos of your building from various lunch spots. The key is not getting stuck in your ways. You’re a different person on every gig. You’ve grown. Your skills have improved, you saw more of the world, and may have made some new friends. Metamorphically shed the worst bits of your past.
Don’t be afraid to grow into what you want.
Most people will try to turn you into something that will be useful for them. Some is fine. If you’re terrified of people and someone wants to take that out of you, change only because you truly want that, otherwise you’ll find yourself becoming incongruent with the work you enjoy, derive meaning from, or for me, get work that only pays slightly more yet distracts me from my goals. Don’t be afraid to say no, just as long as you’re willing to accept the consequences and have backup plans.
Keep an ace or two up your sleeve.
Be loyal to your company in your quality of work, not your quality of life. Don’t sacrifice your personality for any employer. People, management, and budgets change. Your full-time employment, contract, or gig could end tomorrow without any intervention from you.
And yet, those friendships and those photos will last.