I'm Possible: Knowing Your Boundaries

I'M Possible.jpg

There’s a blog on Tumblr called, “Clients From Hell”. In it, Independent Contractors share their tales of woe regarding clients from… well… Hell.

Today’s Gig Economy has bred an influx of Independent Contractors. Being an Independent Contractor is like anything—it has its ups and downs. The ups being you get to control when and how you get your assignments done, the downs being you are not compensated for health insurance and other benefits because you’re not recognized as a W-9 by the IRS.

One of the main things Independent Contractors should remember is that you are not beholden to a client. Yes, you should do right by them and complete your work, but you have a right to assert your boundaries should you feel the said client is taking advantage of you and your services. You have the right to walk away any time.

This brings me to the meat of this particular column for I’m Possible. People—and women in particular—are so often primed to always say “yes” and to anticipate the needs of others. This is not necessarily a bad thing, so long as the relationship or exchange is reciprocated and done respectfully, but saying “yes” to everything to the point of being drained is something that we as world need to pay more focus on.

I dealt with one particular client that left me feeling so anxious anticipating their endless array of emails and requests that I became numb. I let said client dictate to me how I should spend my days and my time. I’d wake up resentful and overwhelmed but felt so beholden to the client’s requests that I ended up completely forgetting about myself.

When you’re that overwhelmed with anxiety that you completely sacrifice yourself and your needs and wake up everyday feeling resentful about a client or an assignment, your boundaries are being disrespected.

In America, we pride ourselves on our work ethic. We work ourselves to death and do it so joylessly. We hide ourselves behind the veneer of work and materialism. By having a high-power job and driving a Maserati, we somehow believe we’ve “arrived”. But what does it all mean if you feel numb, out-of-place, and unhappy?

I ended up severing my contract with the Client from Hell. It came after a month of senseless work, a 2 am phone call (that I should have billed for), a 1 hour and 45 minute detour in the company car, and no weekends free. Every day I wake up and am grateful I am no longer beholden to that particular client.

Today I walked to meet one of my favorite clients. The entire time I was counting my blessings. I kept telling myself how grateful I am for this client, how they helped me find other clients and how I’ve been lucky enough to thrive in a collaborative environment where I feel comfortable to work with a generous learning curve. The clients I have now are incredibly kind to me and respect my boundaries. In turn, I’ve been able to do things for myself finally. I’ve recently started writing short stories and have dabbled in painting again as well.

Set your boundaries. The people who trespass them are not worth your time. Don’t waste another minute severing ties and coming to, or returning to, a place that makes you happy. The people who respect your space will be so happy to welcome you back.