The (Un)examined Life: Things I Learn in My First Month of Going Freelance

To those who wonder, I’ve finally resigned from my 8-to-5 job. I didn’t resign so I could apply for a higher-paying job. I risked leaving it for the sake of pursuing a career out of my interest and hobby, which are entertainment law and writing. I spent the better part of the year saving money. Once September ended, I thought I’d immediately jump to a new lifestyle of self-scheduled productivity. I wasn’t prepared to find myself struggling instead. Now that October’s ending, here are a few things I’ve taken notes off.

1. Health is super important

I got sick the first couple of weeks into my freelance life. I had to take antibiotics for a week, and it made me nauseous. I felt like vomiting so bad, I didn’t want to get up from bed, nor did I eat enough because of it. It affected my mood and my concentration to work. When I finished the medicine, my physical condition improved. I also made a point of eating on time (morning, afternoon, evening) to make sure I don’t get hungry and distracted when I’m supposed to be working.

It took some time, but I’ve managed to set a relative pattern on my sleeping schedule. I make sure that I sleep and wake up at the same time every day. It’s easier now that I don’t have to go to an office anymore. I don’t do any extreme (or regular) sport, but maintaining this habit makes me feel healthy. I feel healthy and have energy to work on my tasks. The only downside is I also have more energy when I’m mad at something. LOL

2. Tests are everywhere

I’ve always known that my biggest challenge would be my own self-doubt. Will I pull it off? Looking at my saving dwindling every day also makes an effective combo to send me into anxiety. On the other hand, a former boss is offering me a job. Until today, that offer still stands. I’m certain I’ll be taken care of in that office and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything else in my life, but I must take it (under my personal principle) at the expense of leaving all of the projects I’m pursuing right now. I’ve promised myself that if I ever apply for an office job again, it means I fail whatever I’m doing now, and I will not pursue it any longer. Currently, the only motivation I have to take that job is my fear of not being able to pull it of. No insightful conclusion on this one. I know this is inevitable and I have to make up my mind about it.

3. A house is a commitment

It finally dawned on me that a house/roof/home is the biggest commitment you’ll ever have to make in life. It’s your biggest expense. It’s where you sleep and safe-keep everything that you own. I have never made any housing decision lightly. It’s important for me to know everything about a house before I move into it. Where is it? How big? The price? What’s the living terms and conditions? Will I share it with anyone? What are the sharing terms? It becomes even more important when I have roommate(s). The terms, do’s and don’t’s, and boundaries with each other must be crystal clear before we decide to share this space. We have to be committed to it. And I can only live with someone who shares the same respect I have about housing. I’m so glad to have Sasha as my roommate for the last few years.

4. A clean space = a clean mind

Cleaning and tidying up the whole apartment was my priority during the first days of being unemployed a freelancer. I didn’t force myself to work immediately. I gave myself a couple of weeks (which stretched to a month, because struggling) to clean up and settled old debts.

I started with the closet, took out anything that wasn’t useful there, put them in the storage. Got a huge container to store my handbags, too. I gave away unused clothes and threw away expired make up and skin care. Now it’s clean and smells good. I even have a space to put a desk and a comfy chair in the corner. I can have a work space that is not my bed!

I did the same thing with my bedroom. No more cluttered junk on the floor! I brushed the bathroom vigorously, and I’ll try to do it every couple of weeks. We also got ourselves a carpet and we rolled it in the living room. I swear it’s so soft and comfy, you can nest there. Our living room is finally cozy and habitable. The only room left to clean up is the storage. But I have a bigger tolerance in keeping it messy, because it’s not somewhere I frequent to. And oh, clean your dishes every time you finish your meal. This is the most helpful tip for a lazy ass like me.

I didn’t execute all this cleaning project in one go, of course. One day for one room. Now that everything’s done, it’s made me more comfortable to stay at home. I don’t have to worry about dust (I’m allergic) or getting sick. I don’t have any smells or mess that distract me from my work. Most importantly, I like how my home looks.

5. A work space is just as important

In the beginning, I thought I would enjoy working at home by myself. Besides, it’d save a lot of money, rather than working at Starbucks or a co-working space. Turns out it depressed me. I woke up and spent my day alone, because every one was away at the office. I didn’t meet anyone. If it continued, I’d go insane. Suddenly that co-working space rate doesn’t look so expensive anymore. I realise it’s not about the space, but about meeting other people and interacting. I’m still a social person after all and I need to have conversation with people daily. I also need a work space that is far from my bed. It’s too easy to lie down and turn on Netflix instead of working. I’m still figuring out where and when to go to that work space though.

6. Don’t be too hard on yourself

I’m starting to think I may have a slight obsession with productivity. I read every article on productivity hack. I’m seriously considering to consult a shrink about this. Nearing my last day at the office, I made a mental note of what my new schedule would look like. It was a pretty strict picture. I would wake up, write, eat, work, relax, hang out, and a sleep at specific time. And I would track my time for accountability. Then I found out that it’s not an easy schedule to follow.

I tell myself again and again that everything takes time. I don’t have to put myself together now. I’ve learned that it’s ok to take it one step at a time. So I threw away my mental schedule. Now I spend the days how I want it, and hey, I’m starting to see a schedule/pattern that seems to work with me!

In the past, I would’ve been bored to death by the first month of being unemployed. But I’ve been enjoying this process, especially knowing that I’m doing this to make a new work for myself. One that is dictated by me. Come November, I should hold myself more accountable. It doesn’t have to be about a lot of stuff. Reduce the workload, keep it down to a few manageable and accountable ones. Then pat myself on the back for doing a good job. I also need to put more effort in the sustenance department. Gotta pick up the ladle and cook myself more elaborate meals again. Coincidentally, next month is also time for NaNoWriMo. The best month to test your discipline.

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