Overcoming Isolation in Self-Employment & Single Life


Over the past year I’ve written numerous posts about self-employment and how it correlates to the single life.

To be a freelancer (or small business owner), by definition is to be single, at least in the employment field. With this unique state of life comes unique opportunities, but also many temptations.

The biggest challenge for me is the temptation to go into isolation. Not all freelancers face this same difficulty because their work may require interaction with the public or clients.

As a freelance writer all I require is a laptop and a Wi-Fi mobile hotspot to connect to the Internet and I’m off—into a world of isolation.

Aloneness  is not inherently bad—if it’s a legitimate byproduct of your business or something that comes about because of your single state in life, it can be reasonably accepted as God’s will and He will provide all the grace that is necessary.

But not all aloneness in either situation can be written off to Divine Providence. Sometimes our situation can be worsened for negative reasons that we do have control over.

First instance, on the weekend instead of getting together with friends, you may find it easier to just watch TV or read a book. If you make the effort to attend a social outing its because you feel like you “should” do it. The same temptation to isolation exists.

There is also a big temptation towards bitterness.

Many singles have been through rough situations—be it a broken relationship or even a broken marriage—and that leaves wounds. A certain level of retreat may be necessary for the wounds to heal, but if that retreat is accompanied by anger and bitterness then re-integration into a community is hindered.

To draw the analogy to working as a freelance writer, a lot of people who have gone out on their own have had negative experiences in an office environment. In November of 2011 I’d spent three years in an office that met every reasonable definition of toxic, and I was at the center of the storm. 

I knew I wanted to make a move on my own for legitimate reasons, but the bad working situation was my motivator. I’m glad I made the choice I did, and I see it as God’s way of bringing good out of evil. Unfortunately the toxic residue added to the isolation effect.

In the end, happiness can’t come from being alone. Even when you’re single, you still need community. We find our greatest contentment in things achieved with others, and being a part of a team is always more satisfying that being a soloist. It can start by putting the satisfaction of others ahead of yourself.

I’m not suggesting that one play martyr or be a pushover—we have legitimate interests that have to be protected in both single life and business life. But if we enter into any initiative—professional or social—by having the primary question “what can I give?” rather than “what can I get?” we have  a higher chance of lasting success.




  1. Lois-880877 March 17, 2013 Reply

    I hope the new area I move to has some Catholic activities for singles. Where I have been living there is nothing. I spent many years with a husband who did not like to socialize and we lost most of our friends. When he passed I didn’t realize how isolated I had become and now I am trying to change that.

  2. Mark-941795 March 16, 2013 Reply

    Very interesting article. I agree with a lot of it. I am an INTJ (Myers Briggs) personality type. One of the weaknesses of this type is working with others. When I look back on my life one dominant theme is being by myself: hitch-hiking to school as a child, being a singles tennis champion, traveling the world by myself, and on and on. It seems to me that if God made me/us this way, why fight it? I have had many two-year jobs where I get tired of my bosses that self-employment seems to make a lot of sense (which I am now attempting to do). But I also know that I need to attend social gathering to be around people. I recently listened to a consulting presentation that described different project work types. Two types are nomads and pioneers. Nomads wonder around seeking new things. Once they discover what they really want to do they become pioneers. It seems to me that this is the hand of God at work. We have things about ourselves that we do not fully understand but must accept as divinely given to us for a reason.

  3. Cliff-924625 March 16, 2013 Reply

    I do agree with Courtney that the some people achieved and accomplished through solitary ventures are happiest in their work when they are alone. I do my creative work alone and the process of the project is adrenalin to the soul. I balance the passion, religion and social contact weekly. Getting in a routine can be positive or negative. The importance is to have frequent reflections of what life you are in and how to improve it. Full-full glass is always better. Cheers

  4. Michelle-862467 March 16, 2013 Reply

    I had never thought of self employment as being related to single life…you are right though there are correlations and it does take effort to push past isolation and previous negative experiences to meet new people. Good article.

  5. Courtney-885262 March 16, 2013 Reply

    “We find our greatest contentment in things achieved with others, and being a part of a team is always more satisfying that being a soloist.”

    Not true. Artists, writers, musicians, designers, and deep thinkers, who’ve achieved and accomplished through solitary ventures, are happiest in their work when they are alone. Sure, being part of a team is great, but creating something on one’s own, using the talents and skills given by God…sorry, nothing beats that. It’s a high, an elation, and a source of self-confidence.

    Those of us who work from home or have careers where solitude is either a part of the job or a requirement of it, certainly need to seek the company of others, but not to achieve things, but to connect and love.

  6. Theodoric-68091 March 15, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for posting this! I often find comfort – and frustration – from occupying myself by scrolling through CatholicMatch when I should be working! Glad I saw this article!

  7. Cynthia-875784 March 15, 2013 Reply

    I have worked from home for 18 years. When my husband was alive and my children young and at home, it worked. Now that my husband has passed and my children grown, I find myself very isolated. My social life revolves around church activities but it’s a very small parish and most people my age are married and not really that interested in socializing outside of the church venue with a single woman.

    How do I meet people and make friends to do things with? I know I should get out of the house more but I really dislike doing new things alone. Even here on CM, there are very few people in my local area. I can easily see myself becoming that crazy cat lady everyone jokes about and I’d rather not be her.

    • Bob-59786 March 15, 2013 Reply

      You have to seek out others, including non-Catholics, thru Church, Facebook, Meetup, common interest groups. Don’t restrict ages of the others either – it works.

  8. Bob-59786 March 15, 2013 Reply

    Good stuff. BTW, the 2 most important factors determining longevity are education and being social. I’ve been an Independent Contract Programmer since Feb 1990, and am usually a “solitary” guy in my job, but I love training Users of my programs.

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