Shining a light on the freelance myth
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Shining a light on the freelance myth

The newest GTH film, Heart Attack or Freelance: Ham Puay, Ham Pak, Ham Rak Mor, directed by Nawapol Thamrongrattanarit, is currently at the top of the Thai box office. The popularity of the film has not only made the word "freelance" more familiar, it has also shined a spotlight on the real life of freelancers.

The movie portrays the life of a man named Yoon, who is the main character, played by Sunny Suwanmethanon. He is a freelance graphic designer who has a tough life working almost 24/7. He usually doesn't have time for a good rest or anything besides work. One day he gets sick. In the movie, the character states being a freelancer is not easy.

For a lot of people these days, especially the young generation who usually think of freedom as one of life's essentials, working as a freelancer is a dream job. Freelancers do not have to clock in or out. They work in a cafe or a chic co-working space, sipping coffee. This picture is so tempting that many believe that to be a freelancer is to have a good life with eternal freedom.

The reality, however, is not all that sweet. Yoon as well as a few of my freelancer friends are evidence of that.

The dreamlike image of the life of freelancers -- those who do not have to go to the office and stick to boring routine jobs -- is in fact just one small piece of the whole freelancer pie.

Being freelance is deciding not to work for a specific organisation. Yet, of course, he/she needs someone to pay him/her money. Work skills are still required. If you are not good at what you do for a living and go freelance solely so you are not pressured by the boss at the office, then you won't get hired. It is that simple.

One perk of being a freelancer is flexibility. You can have more than one job at a time, under the condition that you can handle them all and then can earn as much as possible as long as there is someone willing to hire you and your performance is good enough. The pressure can be less compared to working for certain companies.

But living the life of a freelancer is not a piece of cake and the route there can be quite thorny. In order to earn the same amount as an office worker, you have to work quite hard.

Self-discipline is paramount. Being a quality freelancer is also very challenging because no one controls the quality of your work but yourself. Moreover, a significant drawback is that you have no social welfare provision. In some cases, you are also at risk of not getting paid, which is one of the biggest problems for freelancers.

Being a freelancer is tough but sometimes this term is used incorrectly by those who are unemployed, such as when they are filling in a job application form. Many choose to describe themselves as "freelance" in order to explain their current working position.

Such a redefinition of being freelance, in my opinion, has given a false perspective towards those who work hard to put food on the table.

One of the things I learnt from Heart Attack was that being a freelancer requires endurance and is competitive. Freelancers must always keep their eyes wide open for job opportunities that might not be easy to come by.

Another lesson from the film is that if freelancers don't maintain their standards, they can easily lose work as there are many better freelancers out there. It is basically a tug of war as to who is called on for the next job.

The director of Heart Attack has worked hard to create a film that has helped change people's attitudes towards freelancers. Freelancer or not, career life is all about perseverance and success cannot be achieved without struggle.

Pattramon Sukprasert is a feature writer for the Life section of the Bangkok Post.

Pattramon Sukprasert

Feature writer

Pattramon Sukprasert is a feature writer for Life section of the Bangkok Post.

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