How to deal with the pandemic as a freelancer

How to deal with the pandemic as a freelancer

We’re all stuck in a pandemic that caught us off-guard (aside from Bill Gates and other scientists who have warned mankind about an upcoming pandemic). The stock market has plummeted. Some businesses are temporarily halted. Many were laid off and put on forced leaves. Households are affected. The COVID-19 pandemic is no fun. This has affected most, if not all, people. Freelancers for one have also been hit.

I’ve seen people comment in freelance groups that their contracts have been put on hold as clients deal with the crisis. Others have hours minimized while some are out of work indefinitely. I, for one, have one project that’s currently on pause and that has affected my finances in a way. While the market and the economy are both uncertain, it is important to focus on the things we can control.

Here are some tips on dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic (or any other stressful event) as a freelancer:

Use your emergency fund

If you find yourself out of work or with less working time, it can be challenging to stay afloat. This is the time when you can take advantage of your emergency fund. This is one of the reasons why you’re saving this money, to save you and your family on a rainy day.

When you have saved around three to six months of expenses, then you are able to cover your needs while you’re still looking for a job. If you can afford to cover up to a year, then do it. I talked on a previous post about the importance of having an emergency fund as a freelancer. Clients come and go and the income can be unpredictable. This is why setting aside money can be useful. The bigger your emergency fund, then you can withstand extended periods of unemployment.

Prioritize expenses

This crisis is not the time to spend money on unnecessary things. You may be tempted to order a milk tea and a box of pizza delivered straight to your home because you are stressed. However, you may want to divert that money to essential expenses like your rent, utilities, groceries, and meds.

Some utility companies in the Philippines have offered deferred payments. Others are giving discounts if you’re paying your bills on time. If you are currently in a tight place with your budget, take advantage of this payment option. Contact your biller and ask if they are offering some sort of leniency during this crisis. If you are able to pay your bills without a problem, then it would be best to pay them right away. Don’t wait for the extended deadline only to find yourself short of cash when that day comes. Chip off payments if you are able.

Stockpile cash

Keep a pile of cash on hand. Always. Especially in this crisis. This doesn’t mean cashing in on your stocks due to the crash (NEVER DO THIS!). What I’m referring to is having money on hand that’s enough for two weeks up to a month.

I don’t want to sound like a doomsday prepper, but having cash is important. Banks might close and ATMs might go out of cash. Although this is very unlikely, it is important to have cash lying around just in case you cannot use your card. This also gives some peace for emergency expenses and purchases.

Apply for short-term projects

Always be on the lookout for new opportunities, if you find that your job isn’t stable.  Try to send out three to five applications per day. Send more if you can. Having a backup job when your main job fails will save you. There have been countless occasions where my side gig saved my ass in the past. Make sure you have multiple streams of income in case the economy tanks or your client’s business folds.

The thing about facing a crisis such as this pandemic is that we’re not exactly sure how this will pan out. There might be a possible recession or depression. Having a few extra projects to work on will give you some sort of a safety net in case SHTF. With extra work, you can stash some extra money as savings to prepare for an emergency. This will also buy you time to find another job.

Learn new skills

If you want to keep up with the ever-changing freelance landscape, always upgrade your skills. If you have some time in your hands, learn something new. Watch tutorials and get yourself a certificate or two. Make sure that these skills add to your current skillset. Doing so can help you in landing a new position in no time.

Since a lot of people are forced to stay at home, competition for projects and jobs has recently increased. Jobs are now filling fast. If you want to stay on top of the game and be hireable, then it is important to improve your skillset now and then. Get certifications. Read more books. Stay current. It’s either you change with the times or you perish.

Bottom line: Safety net

I know that this situation is challenging for everyone. It is definitely a strange time for all of us. It can be difficult for some to get up in the morning lest even be productive. Although it is easy to be worried, you can reframe your mind by taking action on things that you can control.

These tips will work not just for freelancers, but for all types of workers. Having a safety net and being competitive in these changing times will help you stay afloat during this pandemic.

Stay safe!

Freelance life in the midst of a pandemic

Freelance life in the midst of a pandemic

The last three months have been a pretty long year. 2020 has thrown us a ton of curveballs and it seems like there is no end to it. I hoped that this year would be smooth but it was definitely otherwise. There have been quite a lot of big catastrophes and sad news. The biggest so far is the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic and the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Cebu (and in some parts of the Philippines) added strain to the already tense freelance work life that I had.

I have been very anxious in early March when the virus started to spread in the country. It is unsettling to know that we’re fighting an invisible enemy, a virus that kills. There have been a lot of casualties and the worldwide economy is taking a hit because of the pandemic. With this unusual turn of events, my anxiety was through the roof. I found myself crying in the middle of the night unable to contain my fears and emotions.

The current life

I have one project (with a Luzon-based startup) that’s currently on hold because of the ECQ. It was an understandable move. With the quarantine set in Luzon, the business was on its knees. It would be futile to keep continue marketing when your target audiences are still trapped in their homes with limited funds.

I see other foreign clients taking a big hit because of the pandemic. Sales were down and some of the businesses were halted. This heightened my anxiety levels. It can be nerve-wracking to think about what the future holds, especially for industries and businesses that are tied up to my freelance work.

The ECQ also tossed the routine I had. I used to work out regularly for an extra boost of serotonin, but gyms and studios are closed. You can also find me cooped up in a cafe in the afternoons trying to get work done, but dining in is no longer allowed. I am still grappling with the loss of structure and I’m trying to put back the pieces. I am a creature of habit and this made my life really difficult.

The good thing is, I am still working on a few projects that are enough to pay for the essentials. With one project gone, I am forced to prioritize important line expenses. It is not so bad but, it is kind of crippling.  With what’s going on, now is the time to have more than extra dough. This would help ease anxiety and provide a little bit of financial security. This is also the time to minimize unnecessary expenses and save because the future might not be what we expect it to be.

How I’m coping

Although I lost one big project (for the meantime), I am still working and I have money set aside. I am grateful that I still earn and have projects because some people have it worse. I see other freelancers post their woes about clients who have paused contracts because of the crisis. Although I am lucky, the fear is still lurking. The pandemic just started and I really don’t know how the economy will fare in the coming months.

With this, I am putting myself out there. I am applying to projects and looking around for new freelance opportunities. This is not the time to be complacent unless you’re set for six months or more. I try my best to reply to messages and invitations and always look into the possibility of getting some work done for others. On the bright side, I am blessed to receive interview invitations and seasonal projects here and there. It is something I am thankful for. I have new projects that are about to commence in the coming weeks. However, I don’t want to rest on my laurels.

I recently opened up to a freelancer friend regarding my worries about the possible recession (or depression). She said that this will be the time our emergency fund will come in handy. It’s going to be a matter of feast or famine, so we need to readjust our priorities. This really struck me as the most honest piece of advice I’ve ever received recently and I’ve adjusted how I view my expenses in the past few weeks.

Refocus

We are definitely living in an uncertain time and this might be the new normal. It is easy to be stuck in a loop of anger, fear, and anxiety with what’s going on. However, I decided to take hold of the things I can control, like showing up for work every day and putting myself out there by sending emails and proposals regularly. It can be challenging especially when all that you see are bad news. I used to get worked up by the little things but I cannot constantly live in anger and anxiety.

The freelance life is not easy, especially with the pandemic. The risk is doubled. Everything around us seems so fragile. What’s important is making sure that you focus on what you can control and learn to reprioritize the more important things in life.

Living with Uncertainties as a Freelancer

Living with Uncertainties as a Freelancer

I want to talk about something that nobody is openly discussing. Freelancing is not all rainbows and unicorns. It’s not even all roses if that’s your thing. Being a freelancer is not at all dreamy. If you want to become a freelancer, you need to live with constant uncertainty.

I ended 2019 (and also started 2020) with anxiety. There were times when I woke up in the middle of the night wondering if I’ll make it. Then, I’ll cry and not get back to sleep. I would cry and get mad at everyone almost always in a cycle. I didn’t want to go out and hang out with friends. Furthermore, I didn’t want to talk to anyone about what I was going through. Every single day, I was living in fear. I kept my thoughts (and fears) to myself and I wasn’t holding everything pretty well.

Uncertainty is the norm for a freelancer, usually. Projects and clients come and go. Just like working in a normal nine-to-five, you have no security. However, with being a freelancer, the risks are higher. Some projects tend to be short-lived. There are times when your services are no longer needed or the clients’ needs have changed. You just have to be comfortable living with risks and dealing with uncertainties.

My story

One retainer project ended last year and I was worried as hell. I worried that I might not be able to save enough or pay my bills. But that’s not the entire picture. I still have two retainer clients and another on-going non-urgent project that I am working on. It’s not the end of the world, but I panicked because I might not reach my target income that allowed me to live (i.e., save and pay) comfortably.

A funny thing happened. When that retainer project ended, other projects came unexpectedly. I got short-term writing projects that allowed me to earn that same amount I lost (or even more). For this, I am thankful to the Universe (and to former clients who still trust me through the years). When one short-term project ends, another one came. Always. Then, I realize I panicked for no reason at all.

I also had emergency funds that covered the lost income. This allowed me to pursue projects that paid at a later date. Had I not saved enough; I would probably be fucked for real. However, I will have to replenish the funds I took out to prepare for a similar situation in the future.

The ebb and flow

Freelancing has its ebb and flow. There will be good months where you’re fully booked and blessed with paying clients. However, not everyone talks about the slow months where it takes you weeks to find a project that fills your work schedule and pays the bills. These months are real. They’re too real. You either learn to live and deal with these slow months or you let this break you.

Unless you’re okay with this, you should not jump into the sea of freelancing. Sorry to break it to you, honey. Clients and projects don’t just magically appear in your inboxes. You have to put in the work. You need to create your profile, build your portfolio, and be searchable. In short, you need to put yourself out there. Work has to be done.

Dealing with uncertainties

To deal with these uncertainties, you need to take measures. You need to prepare yourself. You should have money saved to cover for the slow weeks or months. Having three to six months of expenses as your emergency fund is a good start. This will give you enough time to search for another project while making sure that the bills are paid.

On the good months, it’s important to save all the extra for the slow months. Always budget for the worst. If possible save most, if not all, for your emergency fund. This is your top priority if you’re starting in the freelancing world.

Aside from that, you need to mentally prepare yourself. I thought I was ready for this to happen, but it turned out I wasn’t. I was devastated. Unfortunately, I still have this tendency to equate my self-worth with the work that I do. With one project ending, I battled with my demons. I thought I wasn’t good enough. I sulked and went on a rage. Later on, I realized that part of this ebb and flow is acceptance and letting go. It wasn’t as easy as meditating or practicing yoga. Real life can be harder than it seemed.

Getting by

To be honest, I am just starting to get out of my anxiety-ridden funk. It has been two months of sleeplessness and dealing with my demons. I have skipped dinners and gatherings with friends because I wasn’t “well.” I’ve been living in my head for too long. Then, I realized that things will work out eventually.

I am currently working on other projects that allow me to earn back the income that I have lost. I am still creating backup plans and striving to work my way out of this rut. It’s not easy but it’s not something I cannot do. I am trying to get by. I am trusting the Universe while making sure that I also do my part.

Nurturing Gratefulness

Nurturing Gratefulness

I’m taking a quick break from a busy day to write down my thoughts before I go mental. Life has been a drag. I’ve been hating myself more than usual. I haven’t been sleeping well. My anxiety is through the roof. However, I am doing my best to create space for gratefulness.

It can be too easy to write a list of every little thing I hate about my life. That is such a no brainer. I am especially hard on myself; so on a day-to-day basis, I just hate everything. This voice inside my head tells me I can do better or things should be better. It triggers me to hate the things I cannot have or cannot do.

I hate that I cannot work longer so I can earn more. If I work harder and longer, I can achieve x or y. I hate that I cannot do my headstand perfectly. If only I have enough arm and core strength, it might not be a problem to execute difficult yoga poses. I hate that I need eight hours of sleep to function properly. If I do not get enough sleep, I will just be grumpy the entire day. I hate how sickly I am. My immune system has always been bad since I was a kid. You get it. The list goes on.

I try to be kind to myself. I meditate and do yoga to remind myself that I matter in a space full of other people. Unfortunately, the inner critic gets the best of me. On most days, I tend to listen to the voice. I wallow up on my self-pity and allow hatred to take over me.

Today, I am taking the time to have a heart that’s full of gratefulness.

I am grateful for clients who have been nothing but kind. I am lucky to have found dream clients who send me gifts on my birthday or ask me how my doctor’s appointment went. My projects have allowed me to earn and save for my little wants and needs. Despite wanting more, I am lucky for having the opportunity to pursue my little desires and to have more than what I what need.  I am still able to travel when I can, purchase workout gear when the need arises, gift my family and friends just because, and eat deliciously when I crave for it.

I am grateful for the wonderful connections I have. Some of them have led me to projects and to people that shaped me to become who I am today. It seems that my path, despite how crazy it was, led me to a life that it is imperfectly perfect. I know I am better off now than I was when I began my unconventional path.

Ten years ago, I dreamed of having the things I now have. Back then, I never imagined I could achieve them. It was just a hope, a little wish. It was just a maybe, a thought that was floating around in my head. Now that I currently have more than I did years ago, it can be easy to take things for granted. It is too easy to want more. I forgot the rough road I had the take and the hardships I hade to endure to get me to where I am. I got used to the shiny object I once wanted that suddenly I just hungered for more. This downward-spiral of unhappiness and discontent drove me crazy. I was no longer counting my blessings. Instead, I was counting all the reasons why my life is “wrong.”

By writing this, I want to remind myself that life has been better. It may not be exactly how I want it to be, but I have what I need and so much more. I know I could do better. There is always room for growth and improvement, but I don’t have to be angry. Life unfolds when it’s time to unfold. There’s no need to rush and be so hard on myself.

I admit it can be difficult to have that wee bit of gratefulness when all I see are things that are not going my way. However, I try. I am human after all. I stumble. Then, I try again. Above all, I keep trying to make space for gratefulness in a heart that is weak but continuously hopeful.

Six things I wish I did before I started freelancing

Six things I wish I did before I started freelancing
It’s been more than a year since I left my corporate job and started freelancing. I’ve had quite the adventure from having zero plans when I started to now trying to get my shit together. My life has been a crazy ride ever since but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well, there might be a few changes I would have done (financially) just so I got my ass covered. If I could go back in time just to do things right, I will do these six things before I went and jumped into the freelance ship.

Have a buffer

A buffer could be an extra amount of money that you have to prevent you from overdrafting (if you have a checking account). However, you can use buffer differently as an extra wiggle room for when you have miscellaneous or unexpected expenses. How I see buffer, as a freelancer, is having extra money to cover you for a month’s (or less) necessary expenses in case the check didn’t come through yet. The problem with freelancing is that you’re not quite sure if you’ll have the same earnings every month. Every client is different. I never had a buffer and I just discovered what a buffer is this year after reading an article from The Simple Dollar. As a freelancer, this would be something great to have as a the-client’s-pay-didn’t-come-through-yet money.

Have an emergency fund

This I’ve known for years. Many financial bloggers advise having at least three to six months of living expenses as an emergency fund. The bigger your emergency fund, the better. This emergency fund should cover events, like hospitalization or when you’re suddenly out of job. The key here: emergency. It shouldn’t be touched to buy that new iPhone or that nice dress from Zara.

When I resigned, I only had a little over a month of emergency fund sitting in my bank. Though it did help a lot during my first month out of corporate, it would have been better to have more. I got lucky and found a project just a week before my last day at the office which was amazing. I also found another paying gig two weeks after that. So a few weeks in, I already had enough money for my monthly expenses. It was a miracle. Unfortunately, I exhausted all my funds at that time. Now, I’m slowly rebuilding my emergency fund (along with other savings).

Pay off all debts

I had a big sum of (credit card) debt even before I quit my job. This was the result of bad financial management in my youth, despite knowing better. My parents berated me for months when they knew of my financial sins. My mom asked me to close my accounts and I had to pay them all. Quitting my job made it worse. Without a stable monthly paycheck, it was more challenging to pay my bills. Truth be told, it was tough. On the flip side, I already paid one credit card account in full (while I was freelancing). It was an achievement on my part. Now, I’m on my way to pay off the last one.

Have a few freelancing projects before resigning

Get your toes wet first, if possible. This is probably the most important test to see if you could handle the freelance life. Make sure that you have bankable skills that you could use as a freelancer. If you know designing and graphics, you could easily find projects online for designers. VA jobs are also in demand right now and are relatively easy to get. Utilize the skills that you have and find a job that you enjoy. By trying out freelancing jobs, you can maneuver how the online industry works. It’s definitely a skill to learn as well.

Start your retirement savings

This is something that’s good to start as soon as you get your first paycheck. I just started mine, so there’s no judgment if you don’t have this bit figured out yet. Once you have your emergency fund set up, work on your retirement savings. Don’t rely on social security to get you through your senior life. No, your future kids aren’t your escape plan. Have your retirement figured out as early as possible and you’ll thank yourself when you reach that age. It’s nice to think that you have yourself covered when you’re old and gray. Some people even save up super fast in order to retire earlier than 65.

Figure out a way to get insurance

Health insurance is one of the perks of working in a company. When you’re working for yourself, you only I have yourself to rely on. Find ways to get some sort of healthcare coverage when emergencies arise. I personally opted to pay voluntarily for my PhilHealth and join a cooperative that comes with basic health insurance. This is still not enough for someone who has health problems, like me. I’m still looking into getting prepaid healthcare insurance to beef up whatever coverage that I currently have. I cannot imagine burning a hole in my savings just because I didn’t prepare for health emergencies. This also includes preparing for death, so I just started a memorial plan just in case.

Although I am currently doing all these points right now, I wish I could’ve done them sooner to prevent certain challenges in my freelancing life. I just hope some people, who have been contemplating about being their own bosses, will find this helpful. It can be tempting to jump off the cliff too soon, especially when you’re already dragging yourself to work. However, just making sure you have an extra layer of (financial) security will help you sleep soundly at night.

Travel Alone

Travel Alone

Do yourself a favor. Travel alone. Go somewhere you’ve never been. Go someplace without a friend. You’ll have me to thank when your trip’s over and done with.You might have a heavy heart. You might not know which path to take. It might be a quarter-life crisis. It might be some needed soul-searching. No matter where you are in this life, a solo trip will help you get the clarity that you need.

How to travel alone

You might think, where to? You might think, how come? A solo trip will start daunting as it is. However, as you go on with your journey, you realize there’s nothing to be afraid of.

Take it slow, if it’s that scary. You don’t need to go too far. It also doesn’t have to take that long. A few days on an island five hours from your hometown might help. When you have the guts, take that plane ride plus an eight-hour bus ride to the paradise you’ve never been. What’s important is committing to that trip like it’s the only redemption you’ve got.

Travel alone, even if it scares you. Travel alone, even if no one supports you. Depend on yourself alone for once in your life. Then, you’ll definitely see that your worries are minuscule to that of the world.

Do it for you

You’re doing yourself a big favor. Travel alone for you and to you. It’s not for the ‘gram. It’s not for show. When you take that step out of your comfort zone, you see things you don’t normally see. You discover your own vulnerability. This allows you to be in new situations. You meet new faces. You see new places. This is where you start opening up to the world and the people around you.

When you travel alone, you get to be in your own thoughts often. You’re forced to address those things that you’ve put in the backburner. You’re able to see yourself in a new light. This pushes your limits.

What’s interesting is that there’s magic with every solo trip you take. It’s like leaving home a little torn, but coming back a little whole. You find the answers to the questions you never meant to ask. You discover the healing and rest that your weary heart needed. Sometimes, all these come from the strangers who are willing to open their arms for you.

Traveling alone is more about self-discovery. Once you’ve done it, you see the beauty in every trip that you take. Every journey is different. It is always unique. It brings you closer to yourself in different ways. You unearth a different side of you. Then, you’ll see it’s not so bad to be alone.

Looking Back at 2018

Looking Back at 2018

The year 2018 is almost coming to a close. Looking back, it was filled with (inside) turmoil and a lot of struggles. I broke down quite a lot this year without my friends knowing. I was confused and I thought I was treading the wrong path. It felt lonely and heavy at times. I was insecure and anxious for the most part. However, I have no one to blame but myself.

Getting my cards read

There was a time when I had my cards read by a good friend. I was at the point of breaking down again and had no one to turn to.

It was interesting how the cards showed the pain that I kept denying. They unveiled the misery that I kept close to myself. I was at my heaviest and I wanted to be done with everything. What nobody could tell, the cards showed. However, it added that my pain was my own doing. I was my own monster and that needed to be addressed.

After that, I felt a sense of lightness. I felt new. It was like a rock was lifted somewhere.

What I learned

Sometimes, you don’t have to keep it to yourself. One of my biggest mistakes in 2018 was bottling up my feelings. I thought no one understood me. I thought nobody would give a damn. However, I had friends. They were few, but I knew I could count on them when shit hit the fan.

Do not underestimate the power of self-care. It is not just about bubble bath and massages. It is about noticing the little things. Sometimes, self-care can be as simple as being kind to yourself. We are easily kind to other people but are harsher towards our own self.

My friend told me “inaction can also be a form of action.” That hit home. For people who knew me well, I hate being idle. I hate not doing anything. I was that person who NEEDED something to do. At least a little something. I always want fast results. However, I need to take my damn sweet time. Trust the process, even if it is really slow.

My 2018 goals

Of the 12 goals I had for 2018, I crossed off seven. It isn’t too bad when you think about it. I was shocked to have accomplished more than 50% of the goals I set out for myself when I typically tend to accomplish just 30% on a given year. I thought I was a loser this year. Somehow, that definition of loser has to be changed.

Looking back, I’ve gone far from where I started. Sometimes, you need to be grateful and constantly look for the little things to see how truly #blessed (pun intended!) you are. We are often too busy looking for the bigger things in life that we lose sight of the little things that matter most.

Moving forward

Despite all those challenges, the year ended on a good note. I am beyond grateful for everything that I currently have. I am still not where I want to be but I am getting there. The journey isn’t so bad when you let the rain come through. It’s not as awful as you think it is when you see through the struggles. Looking back, I wouldn’t change a thing.

As 2018 wanes and a new year waxes, here’s to moving forward. With a little bit of hope and a little bit of joy, we take another step. Here’s to happiness, contentment, and love! Cheers!

Religion and Respect

Religion and Respect

Religion and politics are two things I hate talking about in public. This doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy discussing these topics with open and intellectual people. Most often than not, talking to close-minded people could end up in a mishap. Being open about my perspective on religion might not be taken lightly by some people.

I am an agnostic. This has been something my parents have wrestled with me through the years. They have called me every Sunday morning to remind me to go to church. They have also chastised me on my hospital bed to go back to god. It wasn’t until recently that they’ve given up. I guess they’ve finally sensed that they have a headstrong daughter. I just keep reminding them that despite how different my perspective on religion is, I do my best to live an honest and good life. It probably pains them to hear me reason out whenever I tell them that I don’t want to live a dishonest life by simply going to church and not practicing what I preach.

Gods in millions

The human race currently worships more than 33 million deities. This includes the thousands and millions of  Gods worshipped my polytheistic religions, like Shinto and Hinduism respectively. Monotheistic religions, in a historical perspective, have only been around more recently. We know for a fact that our ancestors have worshipped tons of gods and goddesses. Even in this modern world, polytheistic religions are still prevalent. How can you tell me yours is the only one that’s right?

What I hate about religion and what has gotten me to be open and free from it are people who push down their own religion and opinions down your throat without knowing why they believe what they believe in. I see both the beauty and flaw in every religion. Not one set of belief is more right or truer than others. Not one is mightier or even better than the rest.

At the core, most religions are the same. When you look at them with inquisitive eyes, you see that they teach the same basic values despite their differences. Once you peel the layers and the rituals, the basic tenets are the same.

Love is my religion

Like Ziggy Marley’s song, love is my religion. It really is. Take it or leave it. I believe I don’t need a religion to live an honest life. As long as I practice honesty and respect, I know I’m not doing anyone harm. This belief is personal, too. I am not converting anyone.

What good is a religion is when you don’t practice any of it? What good is going to church when once you step out of it, you turn a blind eye to the evils around you? I don’t see the point of religion when you don’t actually live up to it, when you don’t practice any of it, or when you live a totally dishonest life.

What’s sad is how we use religion and belief to discriminate others. Just because someone else’s belief is different from yours doesn’t mean they’re bad. Moreover, this has been used by man since the dawn of time to conquer and kill. Sometimes, we use religion as an excuse to do what we do.

I try to look at religion as a way of living. Often, it is a journey. It’s a guide that people use to live their lives. I admire people who live their faith. I see beauty in how they live their lives and I respect that. Sometimes, I wish there were more people like that. Instead of constantly being critical of others, why can’t we be more accepting and just live our lives accordingly?

Respect others

We’re all different. Shouldn’t we just revel in the beauty of difference? People have different perspectives, whether that’s religion or something else. What’s important is to respect that even if you don’t agree with it.

I guess it all boils down to learning how to co-exist with others and respecting differences. Just because someone or something is different from what we’re used to doesn’t mean it’s bad. It’s just different. There’s nothing more to it.

Don’t just sit there with your pre-conceived assumptions and prejudices. Make an effort to understand people and their beliefs even better. Religion and spirituality are both personal. One shouldn’t be forced to take one up because society or people dictate you to. You shouldn’t pressure someone to take your own set of beliefs, either.

The Art of Detachment

The Art of Detachment

Detachment is often thought as a negative word. It could mean losing touch with the world. It could also mean being aloof or separated. However, detachment is a skill as it is an art. There is nothing inherently wrong about this. On the contrary, it can be a saving factor towards having inner peace.Throughout our lives, we have this urge to find what’s ours in this world. We were taught that this toy is ours while that one’s someone else’s. We only play with what’s ours and that we can’t touch other people’s stuff. Ownership is an important governing factor in life. And, with that ownership comes attachment.

Attachment is deeply ingrained in us. It is human. We attach ourselves to things, people, ideas, beliefs, and even in ourselves. However, this attachment can bring us despair as it brings us happiness.

When we get too attached to objects beyond our control, we lose ourselves. It’s because we’ve attached ourselves towards impermanent things. This can mean losing people or material possessions will make us go off track. When we’ve attached ourselves to an idea, losing that thing could mean losing our peace.

A useful reminder in stoic philosophy is “Everything is ephemeral.” Everything in life comes and goes. Plants wither. Emotions switch. The weather changes. We die. Nothing is permanent. Those things are beyond your control. Attaching yourself to an impermanent object is a sure way towards pain. This is why you need to detach yourself from those things and people.

Think of detachment as a loose grip on objects that will disappear anytime. It’s not an excessive choking hold, but a gentle one that allows you to be free any time. When we detach ourselves from objects, we become more self-sufficient even once they’re gone.

We need to remind ourselves of the ephemeral nature of the world. We need to make the most out of the time that we have while enjoying the presence of this object or person. This allows us to nurture gratitude in our hearts. Take care not to view the ephemerality of life hedonistically, though, as there needs to be a balance. There is a fine line between #YOLO and making the most out of every moment.

Another way to look at impermanence and detachment is to focus your limited time towards the things that you can control. Although you can’t control how people treat you, you can control how you treat others. Instead of worrying so much what people think of you, focus on being a better person. No matter what others do to you, you know for yourself that you’re living an honest life and you’re bettering yourself.

Detachment, just like mindfulness, takes practice. You can’t just magically apply in all aspects of your life. There will definitely be some sort of resistance. However, you need to note it, let it go, and try again.

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. I’ve been trying my best to detach myself from things beyond my control. What people think of me is out of my control. Therefore, it’s none of my business. When I try to attach myself to an idea of how people should perceive me, I become a slave towards that idea. Similarly, when I attach myself to friends who will change and will possibly lose touch with me, I am setting myself up for a major heartbreak.

Instead of focusing and attaching myself to people, situations, and ideas, I just try to focus on making sure that I am becoming a better person. I focus on my craft and my productivity. I ask myself, “Will I be happy five years from now?” What I do is that I try to become a better friend, a better partner, and a better human. I’m not perfect and there’s no easy way to go about it. I focus on these things because these are within my control. I’m still trying to discover what will bring me satisfaction in the long term.

Trust me, I don’t have everything figured out yet. There are times when I catch myself getting angry because a plan didn’t go my way or one person treats me badly. Once I recognize that thought, I note it, understand it, and let it go. Often, it takes days before I realize that I’ve sacrificed my own peace for something I have no control over. So, I just fucking let it go. It’s not worth it, honestly.

I guess what I’m trying to say is to detach yourself from the external ephemeral parts of the world. Instead attach yourself inwards and towards the things that you can control, like your values and principles. These are the things that are more worthy of your time.

On a Self-Imposed Shopping Ban

On a Self-Imposed Shopping Ban

It’s already a year since I gave myself a (modified) clothing shopping ban. It was that time when I came to the realization that I didn’t want to work in an office anymore. It’s been almost a year since I quit my job with that fancy job title. I jumped into the abyss of working random bits as a freelancer.

With that transition, I wanted to change my ways (a little). Being a freelancer meant I won’t have a steady paycheck that would come on a set day. That also meant I couldn’t afford shopping sprees. On the flip side, since I’m a freelancer, I don’t need to be dressed to the nines at all times. I could just wear whatever unless I have in-person or face-to-face interviews for projects.

After I quit my job, I cut my wardrobe in half. I moved my dresses and other clothes for work or those that I rarely wear to the spare room. I wanted to do the capsule wardrobe, do the Project 333, or the 90/90 rule. However, I didn’t have enough willpower to do that. I was still trying to navigate this new lifestyle and I didn’t want to push myself too much that I’ll fail. I thought I’ll miss some of those dresses and I’ll be grabbing them back to my closet. But, I never even thought about them truth be told.

Within the year of that ban, I only bought two pairs of swimsuit, a pair of yoga pants, and some underwear. I controlled my urge to buy other clothing items. Heaven knows how much I want to buy some Topshop Joni jeans right now.

Even if I halfed my closet, I still have quite a lot of clothes that I rarely wear. I default to a few of my go-to clothes. I know I have to downsize my closet some more and stick to the basics that I like wearing.

One of my realizations with this shopping ban is that I have a lot of clothes. I discovered that I don’t really need more. What I have is enough. Although I still kind of want to go buy that fancy top from Zara, I just stop in my tracks and think that I can’t afford that right now. I started to get a clearer picture of my personal style that’s not affected by the trends. In my mind, I finally knew what I wanted and needed. Not being able to buy clothes even if I wanted to made me realize that I don’t need to act on every urge.

I also started to appreciate the gifts I got from people, like my Havaianas slippers from my boyfriend and the graphic tee from my friend, Debb. These are probably among my most worn and used items and I love them. The little things that people give to you start to matter and you just swell with gratitude.

I have to work on it. I’m not quite there yet with having a good wardrobe that I could say every piece is something I get a lot of wear. My goal is to have all of my belongings fit my backpack and carry-on luggage. I think that would be one of my greatest achievements. For now, I’m still trying to downsize as much as I can and build a good wardrobe of basic clothing. I’ve seen some people do it drastically and succeed in the process. I know I don’t have the willpower to do that. So far, taking it slow has worked for me. I’m enjoying the process of making rules and readjusting from time to time. Can’t wait until everything fits in my bags and I can just pack and leave whenever.