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.

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!

Accept Where You Are

Accept Where You Are

Once you open any of your social media accounts, it is easy to fall into a rabbit hole. You start scrolling down your newsfeed looking at the latest travel photos from friends. You start liking photos of their pets or of their newest gadgets. Their selfies look amazing, too! Although there is nothing inherently wrong with social media, you start comparing your uneventful life to theirs. It is easy to fall into this loop. It can somehow feel like a trap.

Though it’s natural to compare yourself to your friends, you know it’s doing harm than good. Before you start diving into these thoughts, just stop! It might be difficult, but accept where you are. Your own journey is unique and cannot be compared to others’.

Life is a journey and not a destination. It is fine to want a certain degree of happiness, success, and material possessions, but don’t derail yourself from the real essence of living. Life is all about growth, experience, and contribution. We all have different experiences that all add up to who we are and who we become. Each has his own path to take. At the end of it all, in life, it’s the trek that matters.

Like most journeys, each one is unique. Some get the direct trips, others have pitstops, but most get detours. A friend might be currently living a carefree life globe-trotting for years while another might be trying to settle down with a good career and a new house. Each has his own unique journey and you have yours, too. It can be easy to feel envious, but you don’t have to if you know the path where you’re going. If you are aware of the direction you’re heading, then there’s no need to be jealous.

You might be struggling right now, looking for the answers. But, we’re not in a time-bound contest. It’s always okay to start all over. It’s always okay to be struggling, as long as you’re progressing in some way. Accept where you are and accept your struggles. These are the things that make your own journey unique.

It might not be easy, but respect yourself enough to accept your journey. Be busy looking at the road while you’re driving. You don’t have the luxury to check other people’s roads. Your life needs to be lived and experienced. It’s yours and yours alone.