23 Things I Wish I'd Known: #18: Loneliness, Boredom, and Isolation Are Choices
At age 22, I started stripping. For the next fifteen years I worked off and on as a dominatrix, porn actress, and escort.
Now I’m 49.
Here are 23 things I know now that I wished I’d known then:
#18 Loneliness, boredom, and isolation are choices.
One of the most consistent complaints I see all the time throughout the sex industry is that people feel like they don’t have enough time, money, or energy for outside interests. It’s one of those paradoxes about the job—even though often the hours are flexible, and there can be good money in it, why does it seem like there’s never anything left over for family, friends, and fun?
I know this syndrome all too well. Working as an independent escort, I used to sit all day at home alone, turning into a vampire. I didn’t feel like I could afford to make plans in case a last minute call came up. Even though most of my friends were sex workers too, because we all worked weird hours, it made it hard to get together. I ended up in a kind of loneliness trap, desperate for connection, but always finding excuses to not be available for it.
When I say loneliness, isolation, and boredom are choices, I don’t mean by that all we need to do is wave a magic wand and suddenly our social calendars are full. It takes time to cultivate friends—these things don’t happen overnight. A life outside of work takes work.
There are three pieces to solving this puzzle. The first is to professionalize your work schedule. There are three basic rules:
· Post your hours plainly
· Honor and enforce them
· When you’re off, be all the way off
Maintaining steady work hours does so many good things for you. It makes your more predictable for your regular clients, makes you look professional, and can increase your earnings.
Fiercely defending your down time is second piece of the time-balance puzzle. When you fulfill your work hours, you can take personal time without feeling guilty. Going out with that friend, or seeing a movie, or taking an afternoon to pursue an art project feels like an earned reward, rather than time that cuts into your working availability.
Not feeling like you can afford to take time off or to spend money can be the third piece of the puzzle. Money is a hugely emotional topic, one that I tackle at length in my book, Thriving in Sex Work: Heartfelt Advice for Staying Sane in the Sex Industry. And while I don’t have the space to go into depth here, there are plenty of low-cost and free activities out in the world to engage in. Living on a tight budget can be a very real thing, but please don’t let it be an excuse to never get outside into nature, experience art, and spend time with other people.
Many, if not most self-employed people struggle with the all-important work/life balance. As sex workers, the demands of the job can mean we get in the way to taking the very best care of ourselves. Making sure to set aside mandatory quality time for friends, family, hobbies, pets, creative pursuits, and everything else is what makes life worthwhile. You so deserve it.
Thriving in Sex Work is out in paperback and as an ebook-- check it out here.
Until next time, be sweet to yourself—
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