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Happier Than Office Workers? Freelancing Was Just About the Most Stressful Job I've Had

26/01/2015 16:12 GMT | Updated 28/03/2015 09:59 GMT

Apparently, a new study says freelancers are much happier than us office drones buzzing around windowless buildings.

Why? The absence of a boss, combined with a higher salary and fewer working hours.

Before you barrel into your boss's office announcing: "I quit", listen to the part of you muttering "this sounds too good to be true".

As an ex-freelancer, never have I heard a bigger crock of nonsense.

I quit my office job in 2008, utterly frazzled and having just born the brunt of being managed by a terrible boss. I was exhausted, disillusioned with journalism, and just wanted an environment where I wasn't being bellowed at daily.

Freelancing seemed the perfect option. I had enough contacts to keep work going, which would then allow me to tout for work at the publications I really admired.

All was rosy and halycon for the first few months (on paper at least), but while I savoured not having to commute (and it taught me how soul-destroying that journey into work truly was), I was going out of my tiny little mind at having only myself for company.

Yes it meant I didn't have to gossip by the water cooler, or get dragged into office politics, but that abundance of time meant I fretted over the tiniest things. At one point, having thrown myself into a rant about Jeremy Kyle, my sister said supportively: "I think you've lost your marbles."

The lack of colleagues meant there was no one to brainstorm with, no one to ask for a second opinion and most important, no one to go to after work events with.

I even held my own Christmas party in my living room and, after too many sausage rolls and white wine wept by the pot plant because I realised how much I'd spent on the damn thing.

Work socialising meant turning up to events where I knew no one, where other commissioning editors would treat me like a bad smell, fearful I'd put out my begging bowl for a feature.

As for a lack of boss, while I can see how not having one contributes to your wellbeing, I can only see that being a positive if your last one was a total nightmare.

Good bosses are meant to help with your development, give you encouragement and help further your career, which is nigh on impossible to do if you work alone. And one way of looking at it is that freelancers simply end up having lots of bosses who yes, can't sack you for being late, but even worse can just decide not to give you any work.

Which brings me to working hours. Despite what the study says, I don't know a single freelancer who clocks on at nine and clocks off at five. That's mainly to do with THE FEAR.

The fear has the average freelancer working crazy hours, because the fear is all about: What If This Is The Last Piece Of Work I Ever Get?

Yes, you are likely to earn more money than if you'd slaved in an office, but you're also doing a lot of extra work (brainstorming, pitching, sending emails and waiting around).

And good God, I haven't even got to taxes yet.

It is quite likely that I was a particularly shit freelancer, but saving as you go along to pay a massive tax bill in January is really hard, unless you earn pots of money. You have the best of intentions, but somehow one month was a bit dry so you spend all of your money, and now you're halfway through the year without anything saved up, and you might as well keep going because you're fucked.

Combine the taxes with the fact that any holiday you take will be deducted from your own pocket, add the prospect of going crazy with no one to talk to, and multiply by the mind-numbing terror when you've sent a load of ideas to an editor who still has not replied despite your many, many emails, and you can, frankly, keep freelancing.

If you manage to do all of the above happily, then well done to you. But I have a hard time believing that freelancers are lying on a chaise longue eating grapes while we office bods have the worst of it.

The fact is both sides have their ups and downs, and I don't think freelancing offers a more effective work solution. Although I'll give the freelancers one thing: nothing beats working in your pyjamas.