We constantly read about brave souls who quit their desk jobs in pursuit of exotic destination. Regardless of whether you’re a fan or an opponent of remote work, the fact is that it’s here to stay. I graduated college in 2015 and as a typical representative of the controversial millennial generation, became a part of the “gig” economy.
This is why I love it and there’s no turning back.
The word “gig” is thrown around a lot these days, perhaps much more than “career.” This is largely thanks to travel and often, generations prior to the millennial aren’t sure about what to make out of it. According to BBC, the gig economy consists of young people picking up odd and short-term jobs. These could be anything from bartending in Ko Phi Phi, doing farm work in Australia, or teaching English in China. Our insatiable lust for adventure makes us extremely intolerant to the boredom of desk jobs. We desperately try to push ourselves past the “safety bubble” of a pre-decided life plan. Thus, we drive ourselves towards the verge of uncharted territories.
We leave established norms behind and flirt with the unknown.
I tried participating in traditional economy. After finishing my bachelor’s degree at Trinity College, I got a job at a well-established bank in Boston. The brand name and steady paycheck were enough to keep me interested at first. Eventually though, the measly ten vacation days and the fact that I had to ask my boss when it was convenient for him that I to use the bathroom, was unbearable. Tantalized by beautiful images of Bali on Instagram, I quit the job with a ton of gusto and set out to the island on a one-way ticket. While in Bali, I wrote articles to make money and went on until I traveled myself broke.
That was my initiation to the gig economy.
A year later, I found myself dying at a desk once again. Though my freelance career had been great fun, it wasn’t as easy to sustain as social media makes it out to be. My adventurous spirit had been reduced to employee number 50 of a company where my goal was to cold call and email strangers for eight hours a day. I wanted out so badly that when I got fired for not showing interest in my work, I was ecstatic. During my half a year at the job, I had begun to make solid efforts into my freelance writing and had build a list of steady clients. The beauty of the gig economy is that it gives utmost freedom. I found myself in Barcelona in March, Bulgaria in April and on a remote beach in the Dominican jungle in May. I was able to go to all these places while maintaining my work.
The day I landed in Santo Domingo, I made enough money to pay for the entire month I was staying in the country for. Travel had pushed me in the direction of this nomadic lifestyle and I was absolutely in love with it. As author Ken Carter writes: “freedom 55 has no appeal to our generation.”
We are notorious for wanting instant gratification and refuse to put in years of work now, only to reap the benefits when we are old and too sick to travel. Plus, as it turns out, “safe” jobs aren’t so safe anymore. Being someone’s employee does not guarantee that you’ll be all set for years. It only means that you’re putting your faith in someone else’s hands and choosing to work on their goals instead of on your own. This is yet another reason why the gig economy is so appealing.
The gig economy, of course, has its challenges. I often deal with multiple clients, meaning that there’s no one-fits-all approach to business. On top of that, I can’t afford to miss deadlines. If I don’t deliver on time, there’s no way I make it in this business. This means that I have to carefully plan my trips based on time-zones. I would sometimes require me to stay glued to a screen for eight hours a day instead of partying with my new friends at the beach. The toughest part is that I have to hustle 24/7. As I deal with multiple projects, some of them will be great long-term finds. Most, however, will finish quickly, meaning that I have to sell my skills to strangers with thick wallets once again.
The amount of rejection I face as a gig-worker has been be greater than I could have ever imagined. The good news is that after a few months, I have become more resilient than I had ever been in my life.
The gig economy may leave me homeless at times, crawling back to my mom’s house, but the beauty of it is that as long as I’m persistent, I will never fail. I refuse to participate in an old, broken system. Plus, having the freedom to work from anywhere on the planet is too satisfying to give up. The 9-5 system will have us believe that traveling for extended periods of time and doing random jobs will be the death of our resume. I have actually discovered that going on meaningful trips can actually boost my resume, not the other way around.
Precarious and exciting, the gig economy is here to stay. It is driven by yours and mine appetite for travel, fueled by our energy and adamant refusal to work at a desk like our parents did. We are a generation who’s not afraid of risks. We are self-starters and are changing the game for the better.