Can you survive without a job in three months? Many of us, if not all of us, are struggling to do so in this pandemic. The word “struggling” though is subjective, because we are not all in the same situation. Some of us maintain their businesses, but others file bankruptcies. Some individuals are lucky to keep their jobs, but others are in a no-work-no-pay condition or worse, jobless.
Staying alone in Cebu City, the current center of the fight against COVID-19 in the Philippines, is a big challenge for me in the past three months. I resigned from my job on February 2, 2020 while continuing with my freelance writing. However, when the first community quarantine was implemented in the city on March 28, 2020, my freelancing was affected. Similar to many of us, I was also caught unprepared. That realization happened after we found out that the quarantine didn’t last for 15 days or even a month. Unfortunately, Cebu City is now in its third ECQ (enhanced community quarantine) status, a high-risk situation. How do I survive and stay surviving in this crisis?
Saved by Savings
When I said “I was caught unprepared,” I was referring to being geared in keeping my source of income. But when it comes to surviving, my savings are ready to save me. I learned the importance of saving when I was a child. As a poor child living in a remote town in Luzon, I was always on a lookout for ways to survive. That nostalgic childhood molded the man I am now: seeking ways to live, finding ways to help, and thinking ways to risk.
For the rich, saving is a weak mindset of us: the poor. This idea is popularized by Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad (I have the two editions of this book). Somehow, I agree with that because savings will not stay long compared with the big game of the rich: investing. Well, financial investments are a big factor in getting whatever you want and going wherever you desire. Investment, however, could extend to the intangibles, such as intellectual, emotional, and educational investing.
Before the third month of the quarantine came to an end, my savings were zeroed out. The rich mindset wins over my poor thinking of how to survive without a job. Nonetheless, the “poor thinking” pertains to my financial failure. The other investments I have remained in-tack. The savings I have were zeroed out because I risked the remaining money to another investment: the ones “I was caught unprepared”—the tools to generate income.
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Back to Freelancing
When I felt the quarantine will not be lifted anytime soon, I gambled the remaining amount in my bank to buy tools, so I can go back with my freelance writing. Thankfully, the situation in Cebu City was temporarily downgraded to a moderate condition under a general community quarantine (GCQ). Fate is good enough (no, God is good enough) to give me the chance to go out to buy the devices I need. More than two weeks before the third ECQ was implemented in the city today (1st of July 2020), I was already back with my freelancing and trying to regain strength to face the coming weeks or months.
The current global crisis shows the power of freelancing and other uncommon jobs being looked down upon by many. You can always hear people saying, “You can’t get anything from freelancing. You have to get a regular job.” Needlessly to say, many jobs have suffered because many businesses are now closed, leaving many regular employees jobless. On top of the game, the businesses that are not using physical offices to meet clients or customers have continued to survive. Companies that turn to digital platforms to reach a wide audience to buy their products and services are able to stand in these trying times. The thing is: they can’t survive without the people who can hardly work for their digital marketing strategies. It is where the professional tribe of freelancers come in.
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Investing in Skills
There are a lot more beyond generating an income and saving your money. You have to invest big time in your emotional, intellectual, and professional skills. The pandemic doesn’t just put many of us into financial poverty. Some of us are now dealing with depression and anxiety due to the fear of what lies ahead of us. The cause of this might be because of the fear of being jobless, the fear of living in hunger, or the fear of getting infected with the virus. Emotionally, Filipinos are known to be resilient and smiling people despite many challenges. By clinging to that idea, you can have the hope to survive. When I zeroed out my savings, my family and friends had backed me up. You are not alone in this crisis. You have to reach out to the ones you can trust to build you up.
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Aside from emotional intelligence, turn your educational and professional skills to your advantage. The world of digital marketing needs skilled and dedicated individuals. Having a degree is an advantage but today, performance and competence are of high value than a diploma. Don’t be afraid to learn how to write, how to do basic coding (HTML and CSS), how to create graphics, how to upload videos, how to speak English fluently, and how to communicate professionally. They are some of the skills you have to get to survive in the digital era. If I and others can do it, you can do it as well. (The Facebook post below is a story of a former flight steward who started his own business.)
Saving, freelancing, and investing are the three animals that made me survive without a job in 3 months. We are in different situations. I’m not sure if any of the three will apply to your condition. I am not even sure if I can still survive in the future. That’s the reason why the word “hope” exists. You can’t hope for something better if you are already in good condition. You can only hope to be better when you have something to push on to survive. I hope we can see each other again in our best versions after this big trial.