My father has never really been the most emotional person. Growing up, I never quite knew whenever he was in a good mood, but nobody could miss it when he was in a temper (the same one I inherited, yes). We never knew if he was happy about something, but we always knew when he was unhappy, because the entire household would hear about it for days on end.
But every now and then, my father shows some glimmer of humanity in him — mostly when I’m in a rut that he’s heard about from my mother. So I shouldn’t have been too surprised when my father called me three times in less than two weeks just to see if I’ve hung myself from the rafters. And after establishing that I had not, in fact, attempted to dive off a certain 19th-floor balcony, he launched into one of his long, impassioned spiels of advice that included: “You see, the moral of the story is: never work for or with a boyfriend!” He did, however (and to my enormous surprise), tell me that I should continue my ‘job’ as a freelance writer and public relations consultant.
Oui mesdames et messieurs, I’ve somehow landed myself in that transient phase most adults who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing with their lives justify by saying they are ‘freelancing’. I call it a transient phase because it can only ever last so long, before I miraculously land a mundane full-time job or inevitably move out of this country. And I must say, it’s turning out to be much more faceted than I thought.
I am my own boss — sorta kinda. I’ve never taken very well to authority, mainly because the authorities I had to take to were really not the brightest stars in the sky, and rarely cared for anything I had to contribute. They were ignorant and unreasonable, and took too many things too personally, as I found out the hard way at my last job. So, having decided that I needed a break from working for someone whose every decision was based on how they felt about me, it now feels kind of nice to be able to get whatever work I have done almost entirely via email, without having to deal with red tape, green eyes and blue balls.
Spreading feelers. When I first came back to Malaysia, I was hired to do public relations for a bank. And for the next three years, that was all I did (naturally, battling office politics is included in the job scope). Then when I was hired to write for a magazine, I spent two years writing (and everything short of being the editor herself). And finally, when I took nobody’s advice and started working for a boyfriend, I was once again seconded to doing public relations for nearly a year. The only good thing that came out of that last gig was that I learned to do everything myself, and can therefore now do said things with my eyes closed. So freelancing now allows me to dabble in both writing and public relations for different industries, which is really easy as long as you can read and understand (or predict) exactly what the brief tells you.
Me time, all the time. This is perhaps the most oxymoronic part of freelancing. With the exception of my close friends, I’ve never been much of a people person, and I firmly believed in the whole “fake it till you make it” approach when it came to dealing with people. So it would make perfect sense for an introvert like me to absolutely revel in freelancing because that means I don’t have to interact with people whom I would most likely prefer to throw things at. However, the lack of human interaction occasionally does get to me, especially on a particularly low day when I’m sitting at home with nothing but my cats — and my thoughts, those damned thoughts — for company, at least until 8pm or 9pm every night. Which leads me to my next point.
Leaving the rabbit hole. Having been unemployed for the last two months, I’ve been able to catch up with a fair number of friends I had lost touch with in the past year or so. For a non-people person, this is extraordinary progress; to my surprise, it feels really nice, and it makes me wonder if my introversion is something I allowed to develop over the years because I just didn’t know how to function in social settings. Of course, this also means my coffee intake has increased exponentially.
How long will I be able to keep this up, you ask? God only knows. What I know is that I’m on the edge of both my twenties and my sanity, and it’s high damned time I start learning to make the most of whatever I have, as opposed to waiting for whatever I don’t have to come to me.