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Monday, June 13, 2016

The art of being jobless in Singapore

Image Source: Medium
Hey everyone. Just wanted to share something. It's about what I'm doing now. See, I quit my comfortable, stable job at SPH 23 March 2016. I thought I was going to go on to a new job that would bring me into the exciting new world of digital media. But after some misunderstandings and mix-ups, I ended up not joining. I was jobless. It was the first time I had been jobless since I left polytechnic. In fact, even during my last semester at polytechnic I had already begun a job. I was kiasu. After university, same thing, unlike a number of my peers, I didn't take a gap year, I started working. Cause I was kiasu and wanted money. Having a stable income for three years spoils you. I worked under the impression that I'd get money every month, so I spent needlessly and thoughtlessly. (You should see my online shopping carts) But now things are different. It's been a tough three months, full of tentative ups and very apparent downs. See, a couple of weeks after I was officially jobless, a door opened for me to go to Germany and work. Not just to lounge around, but to make an actual difference. I was excited. I made tentative plans to pack Hachi and get him European-certified so that he could make the trip with me. I dreamed of a small apartment my husband and I could share, where I could cook, walk around naked and do whatever I wanted without consequence. I was VERY excited. The interview process took five weeks, spaced out in-between were FOUR different interviews and a written assignment that took three days to complete. After each interview, my resolve grew, I felt good about my chances. But you know what they say, "don't count your chickens before they hatch"! Oh I counted. I counted and even built them little homes in the clouds. What a mistake that was. While out watching a movie, the job fell through. I received an email that told me what I had suspected (after having had to wait for their response for two weeks), and it ended with, "please respond to let us know if you are agreeable to this." Of course I wasn't agreeable to that! I responded with a curt, "I understand. Thank you for your time."

I had pinned everything on it. I felt numb inside, and I was reminded of what a failure I was. How stupid I was to have left my job. How I should have saved more for a rainy day that seemed to stretch on forever. How naive I was to think that you strike gold instantly and continuously. I was angry with the world and angry with myself. Now I was lost. "But why didn't you go for any other job interviews? You should have applied for more jobs!" Well duh. Of course I did. Aside from this Germany job, I had gone for a handful of other interviews, some which led to more freelance work, others which led nowhere. Some which told me I was overqualified, others that told me I didn't have enough experience, some told me I asked for too much (I disagree though. Honestly $2,100 is NOT an editor's pay.) So I pressed on.

I EVEN APPLIED FOR UBER AND GRAB. What a joke, you know how many forms you need approval for? I quit trying. I still get daily texts from Uber and I don't know how to unsubscribe. I knew time was running short. So I quit it, and I pressed on. I spoke to more friends my age, quite a number of them had just gotten stable in their careers, the finance industry folk earning buttloads and ready to afford an EC. Having just gotten out of the funk of taking nearly a whole year to find a job, they understood. But their advice was the same. Just keep hoping, and keep doing what you're doing, eventually you will get something. So I pressed on. Others had been in their job for a number of years and were climbing slowly but steadily. Now these friends. God. These friends were the worst. They had no advice. Theirs was a pat on the shoulder and a quick reversal to "self-praise advice". You know that kind? The ones that go, "well I know that if I won't quit, better to just stay at one job. I just got another pay raise you know." pause. "Maybe next time you should do that when you get another job." awkward pause. "Wah you know what happened at work the other day? My colleague ah...." Fuck you. I love you but seriously, fuck you for being a "friend". Then, being crazy, I applied for a job in the government service. Something which had people who knew me all up in arms. "Dude you're going to hate it." "You're not going to survive the red tape." "Cannot one lah." "Try lor. But I think you won't like it." FARRRRKKK

Then what do you guys want?! The economy is pretty shite you know! The fact that they even called me back to take a psychometric test was a miracle in itself. Heart heavy, knowing that I probably wouldn't take the job, I went for the test. It's been two weeks. NO RESPONSE. Whatever. Because you see, in the months that it's taken me to send out hundreds of resumes - okay nearly 100 resumes - I got anxious. I got bored of waiting around. I sent out some enquiries for freelance jobs. The minute I got a response, I was thankful for my experience at SPH. People wanted me to write for them! I could fill out my time freelancing while sending out resumes in the evening. Then as the months grew longer, and my coffee had to get stronger, I realised that I had more jobs than I could actually handle. Wait a minute. Maybe... No. Maybe. Okay, what do I have to lose? Nothing. Literally. I decided to do it. I was to be a full-time freelancer. I pretty much have zero skills except my ability to type and build and design houses in Sims 3. Also, I'm not pretty like those bloggers / instagrammers so obviously I can't flounce around in Love Bonito clothes and get my Instagram husband to take 1001 shots of me crossing the road. (I wish I could be though. If only I loved - and could fit - into popular fashion more.) Honestly, these people amaze me, they take what them adults think is a useless skill and turn it into something profitable. HELLO. This is the ultimate millennial middle finger to the baby boom and Gen X folks. You guys get a round of applause! And, can y'all teach me how?! 

Anyways, I figured I'd give it a shot.
I have projects on my plate right now that I'm working on (seriously, I should be doing it right now.) it's slow but steady money. It's not enough to buy me my dream house (Rivervine By The Park along Kallang) but enough to keep me stable once it starts coming in. Also, because I get easily distracted, I found a co-working space to work at. The Hive. There's no space to do work in Abel's home. I was tired of cafe-hopping (you can only have that much matcha-flavoured desserts) and stalking out seats at the National Library is an art form I have not yet mastered.

The Hive is pretty chic. And it's affordable!

The Hive is pretty cushy. For a reasonable sum I get to sit in this hipster co-working space, have my own mailbox (still don't know the address though), and am in a convenient area in town. It is here that I hope to build up my freelancing resume and write a book that will blow your socks off. Or sell on Amazon at least. ahaha. Because I'm so fresh, I'm still working on managing projects (thank you Google Sheets!), I'm still looking for people who might need help with copywriting and more. If that's you, you can contact me at amandajaynelee@gmail.com. I'd be happy to respond. But I don't feel so down anymore. And as my husband wisely told me, "pick something you're good at and work on it. You're so here, there, everywhere, it's time for you to focus on just ONE thing. Shelve all your ideas, and focus on just this." So here's me. Focusing. TL;DR Now. If all that was too much, and all stuff you have no interest in reading, no problem. Just at least take away this: All this has taught me quite a number of things. Patience. Anger management. How to handle disappointment. And more importantly, how to think outside the box or how to make the most of a bad situation. If you're in your early twenties and jobless like me. Don't wander around wasting away. Don't seeth. Don't wallow. Create your own opportunities and work hard at them. You're still young enough to fail. My friend's dickhead of a boyfriend might be a jerk, but I still admire him for starting his own company, freelancing and having the gumption to PUSH THROUGH. That's what you need. That's what we all need. This tenacity to say fuck you and just keep pressing on. To tell the truth, I still can't believe that I'm freelancing. I keep thinking next week all the jobs will disappear and I'll be left with nothing. But it hasn't happened yet! (THANK GOD.) Even if this falls through the ground and disappears, at least I'd have known I TRIED. I keep telling my husband that if this doesn't work, I'm just gonna be a cashier at Ikea or at Fairprice. lol. Careers to fall back on. Either way. I'm young. I don't want to have children, so all the more I have time to try. So go forth my fishy friends. Live. Enjoy. And eat good food. #life

P.S. I can be contacted at amandajaynelee@gmail.com for freelance opportunities. P.P.S. I would love to hear thoughts on people who are going through the same thing. Singaporeans unite!
P.P.P.S. The gist of my post, is basically to say, don't wallow, really take what you're good at, think out of the box, and turn it into a skill that you can profit off of!
P.P.P.P.S. I also wanted to thank all the people who have so kindly offered freelance writing opportunities every since I left my job. You guys have no idea how much it means to me :)