A year and a half. I used to work as an architect/designer for an office furniture supplier and interior fit-outs company, and it’s been a year and a half since I decided to resign and be a full time freelancer. Looking back, there was literally no plan when I started to move in back to QC (because I used to stay in Makati). All I know is that at that moment, I wasn’t ready to look for a new job. In fact, I wasn’t ready to do anything. I was depressed, but for some reason, I was excited.
There are many things I learned in the span of less than 2 years of being outside of the corporate world. It was one scary journey. Starting with only a small amount in my bank account, I had no idea how I’m going to survive having no fixed monthly income. But as you will notice, I’ve been to many vacation trips since last year. Haha. Who knew I can fund those trips? But anyway, I am writing this to give you a few tips on the things you should know when you choose to say goodbye to your usual 8 hour dayjob, and say hello from the other side. ;)
1. IT IS SCARY
Not only it is scary. It is also very stressful. You have to go through a huge amount of emotional stress when you are starting out to try being comfortable living a freelancer life. There’s no handbook on how to survive this “new” environment and you have to deal with a lot of questions in your head like, “How am I supposed to pay for my bills?” or “Until when will my savings cover for my needs?”. You will realize that adulting is harder than it seems when your monthly expenses start piling up. So again, it is scary and will definitely keep you out of your comfort zone.
2. MONEY COMES AND GOES
You might be wondering on what I currently do in life. You might even have the question, “Are you even working?” Haha. Well, aside from being a tita to Rafa, yes, I do have work. I am a licensed architect so honestly, this profession is an advantage in this freelancing world. But I’m not saying that it is limited to this skill. There are many many opportunities you can find out there. For the past year, I was sustained by Upwork (formerly Elance-Odesk), a global freelancing platform, and I had jobs related and non-related to Architecture through this, and yep, it is legit! Sometimes I also have local architectural projects, though I honestly don’t prefer getting local clients. :p
But getting straight to the point, income opportunities come and go. So you have to be really smart on which ones to take and exert effort on. There are months when I was so loaded with projects, I don’t even know what to do first. Of course, that means more money but it was tiring.
There are also weeks when I literally have nothing to work on, and I try to survive how to deal with the expenses until the next paycheck. I’ve learned how to really make a budget and save up. Prioritizing the needs instead of the wants.
3. IT’S WEIRD TO WORK 8 HOURS A DAY
Being a freelancer is way different from an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs can make a way for them to earn a passive income while freelancers really deal with a “no work = no pay” life. I am actually aiming to have something like a start-up/investment which can sustain my basic needs. That way, maybe my freelance projects can cover for my wants. Haha. :p
It is hard to keep focused on work when you have the whole house as your office. That’s why I only have my daily quota of working for 4-6 hours. Sometimes I go beyond that, but that’s only if I’m rushing deadlines or if I have too many projects on hand. Yes, it is weird to work 8 hours a day but you’ll get used to knowing no weekend/holidays when you are a freelancer.
Can I also just say that choosing this path means that you are now the boss. You have nobody to report to except for the client. You deal directly with them so if everything else doesn’t work out the way you want to, you have nobody to blame but yourself. It feels good, yes. You have overall control over your output.
4. EXCITING & SPONTANEOUS
When I realized that being a freelancer kind of works for me, I dreamt of being a “digital nomad”. Y’know, me and my laptop, traveling together, sipping cocktails while watching the sunset at the beach, without worrying about work the next day because man, I have my work with me anywhere I go. How cool is that? But I guess that isn’t happening because God has better and awesome plans for me. ;)
Life has never been this exciting and spontaneous for me, compared to when I was still in my 8-5 job. Now, I can schedule any activity, meetings, vacation, anytime. Sometimes, I’ll be surprised on where I could be anytime of the day of any week.
5. GOING BACK TO BASICS
If I’m going to summarize what my freelancing journey taught me, it would be all about going back to the basics. And that is knowing once again the God I know.
For an example, I know God provides for my needs, but it has never been this real in my life until I have experienced what it’s like when you only have your maintaining balance left in your bank account. Many times, God will pour out His blessing when I really needed it the most. He has proved to me again and again how reliable He is. What’s there to fear when I have my “no project” moments? (uhm, like now haha). I have come to know how real, God our provider is.
If there's one thing I'm certain God is teaching me at this point in my life, it would be all about trusting His good hands in providing for my needs. I am not used to this to be honest, but He continues to prove to me that He knows what I need and when I need it most. So I'm embracing this season to know Him deeper, knowing that He will always be faithful and that I don't have to worry about anything. Whenever I feel anxiety knocking on my doorstep, I just pause and remind myself to be expectant on how He will work things out because I know He will. How about you? What is God teaching you lately?
Looking back, having no plans on how to start this chapter of my life, indeed God is in control. He has opened up opportunities I’ve never thought of. Like what I always say, you may have the skills but unless God chooses to bring those opportunities to knock on your door, those skills are useless. It’s still all because of Him.
I know a year and a half is still short compared to others, but I just want to say that despite of it being still scary and stressful at times, life gets better and better now that I’m kinda used to it. I’m not encouraging you to resign and pursue this kind of life. I’m confident that you are where you are right now because God has plans. So you stay right there and count your blessings. Happy weekend!