Coronavirus Killed my paycheck; Here’s How I’m STILL coping.

On April 1st, I lost a majority of my work because the clients I had were in industries severely affected my COVID. At first, I wasn’t too worried about work or money, because I still had clients, and I had some money in my savings account.

For some months, I got one-off jobs to make ends meet, but I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been a rough year in the work department.

As a freelancer, you kind of learn to go with a flow a little bit. I’m a huge planner and I don’t do well with change, but after a full year of working for myself, I learned a lot.

There are certainly dips in work, and instead of freaking out and stressing, I’ve taken that time to do other things — read, mess with my patio plants, sleep in a little, etc.

But during the last year, the “dips” have been months-long instead of the occasional week.

One off-month isn’t going to kill me.

If I stop buying piles of makeup at Ulta, I can save myself an ungodly amount of money. But, when I send out my invoices at the end of the month and they add up to less than half of what I need to pay my bills, that’s a scary feeling.

Like I said, at first, my savings account saved the day and paid the rent.

“Have six months of income in your savings,” they said.

More like, have two years’ worth of income in your savings in case the world goes to shit at a moment’s notice — hard eye roll.

After I did my March invoices, I really started to panic.

My savings account balance was getting lower, and I started asking myself questions I never thought I’d have to:

  • What does the balance need to be before I throw in the towel on working for myself and get a full-time job?
  • When should I tell my apartment complex that I can’t pay my rent?
  • How many bills can I put on my credit cards to get by?
  • Should I move to a different city? Will my mom let me sleep on her couch? Will I be homeless?

There were a few nights I cried myself to sleep considering a very dark future if work didn’t pick up.

The thing that really has shocked me is that… in 2019, I was very, very lucky and work dropped into my lap. I maybe applied to 5 gigs in an entire year and was rarely looking for work — I was swamped!

But now, I was applying to 5, 10, 15, sometimes up to 30 gigs a WEEK, and was barely getting any calls or emails about interviews or test assignments.

When you apply for a job on Indeed, sometimes it shows you how many other people applied. I remember seeing one writing job that had 850 other applicants. Yikes.

In a digital world, a scented resume on pink paper ain’t going to save your ass.

The other thing I kept thinking about was this idea of security. So many people think that having a 9-5 salaried job is the most secure option you can have.

For me, I’ve never made much money at 9-5 jobs and they’ve not been secure: I’ve either gotten fired or laid off from almost EVERY salaried job I’ve had.

Coronavirus probably taught a lot of employees that really, nothing is ACTUALLY secure. Because even some of my current clients have pulled work, called less, and their invoices shrank.

The good news is, last week, I got three new gigs.

One of them is a part-time job, so there’s a small, tiny, false-sense of security with that 🙂 And two are one-off writing gigs, but I’ll take it.

I have also bartered my newsletter-creating skills to get free yoga, so score one for my mental health and general zen.

Now, of course, I am swamped — I have 10 clients — and my life of reading all day and working solely on personal passion projects is long-gone.

But would I rather have anxiety about getting everything done or anxiety about living on the street corner? Pretty easy choice (that many are not afforded).

So, that’s my life right now. It’s been a crazy, stressful year — for many reasons — and for so many people. I still have hope that as more people get vaccinated, the more things will open up, and hopefully, more jobs will be available for those that are looking.

If that’s you, hang in there.

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