How I Spent July – Freelancing, Cooking, Keeping House and Being a Caretaker

Hey guys! Sorry for the lack of updates – I think it’s been a week since I last posted anything. I’ve been quite busy with things… which is ironic, since I’m ‘unemployed’ right now.

I left my old company about a month ago. Believe me, I’d have stayed if I could. I liked the job, it allowed me a lot of flexibility, and I had awesome colleagues. But as with everything else, there’s no perfect 10 – and in this case, I saw no reason to continue if the situation there remained unchanged. I took a big risk by leaving without securing a job first, but I thought of taking a short break to let me relax a little from the stresses of corporate life. Turns out the ‘break’ isn’t so relaxing after all lol 

So far, I’ve been to a couple of interviews, but they either didn’t find my skills to be the right match, or vice versa. And believe me – after five interviews with no matches, you start to question yourself. Like, ‘am I really cut out for this?’ ‘Am I a good writer?’ ‘Do I see myself doing this for the next 20,30 years?’

My parents have been supportive, but I can tell they are worried and disappointed that I don’t have a clear direction in life. Some of my friends are earning five figure salaries, buying homes and cars for their parents.. and here I am at 26, jobless and going through a quarter-life crisis. I see myself writing, but I can’t see myself working in a news organisation anymore (too much pressure and no social life.

Not everything is doom and gloom, though. By some strange stroke of luck, I managed to book a good client on a freelancing platform, so I’ve been working on some write-ups for the past month. Sure, it’s not a steady income and it won’t last forever, but for now, it’s enough for me to pay my bills and cover my basic expenses. No more drinks at Starbucks , that’s for sure…

I find that I enjoy freelancing, and working at my own pace. It takes a lot of discipline, because there are no bosses to tell you to do this and that, and you are sort of your own boss. You deal with the client, you understand what they want, and succeed or fail, it’s all on you. It’s a whole different level of pressure, but I find that I can handle that so far.

Another silver lining (?) is that my ‘break’ is coinciding with my mum doing her cataract surgery. She did surgery on her left eye about three weeks ago, and on her right eye two weeks ago. During the healing period, her vision will be blurry so she was told to rest a lot and not do any housework. So guess who gets to do everything? 😀

So aside from working on my freelancing project, I have to keep house and cook. This has always been a point of contention because I’m clumsy af and in the early days, my mum wouldn’t let me anywhere near the kitchen from fear I’d blow it up or slice a finger.. or something. Also, she is kind of OCD and must have things done in a certain way. If I cut vegetables ‘wrongly’, she gets annoyed and tells me I’m doing it wrong, before proceeding to show me the ‘right’ way. Most of the time I take her advice, but sometimes that’s just not how I want things done. I don’t want to hold the knife the way she does because it feels awkward in my hand.. and I always believe that things should feel natural to you, the user, instead of trying to imitate someone else’s technique and end up master of none.

Cooking these past few weeks has actually been a relaxing affair, because she can’t be in the kitchen due to the smoke getting in her eyes, and I’m allowed free reign to experiment with things. Granted the food doesn’t always turn out good but I’m learning and perfecting my dishes. Some of them turn out pretty decent!

It’s also good to be home because I think my mum is suffering from some sort of anxiety/depression. There are some complications with her recovery ie vision is still blurry, so she’s been freaking out about going blind. I’ve been ferrying her to the hospital multiple times (at least five or six over the last few weeks, for the surgeries + checkups) and all the doctor can say is ‘give it time’. My mum is a constant worrier, so that didn’t help much. She already has health problems, so this just exacerbated her worries. She told me it was good that at least I was in the house, because otherwise she might have gone crazy from being alone with nothing to do, since she can’t watch TV or play with her phone. I help her with the medicine application every three hours coz it’s hard for her to do it herself.

We’re already in August, and I’ve kind of stopped going on job sites. I’m still wondering what I can do next. I’m sick of corporate life and the drama that comes with it… but leaving that behind would mean I have to do something on my own in order to survive. And I’m not sure what that’s gonna be. I strongly admire entrepreneurs who have set out on their own to chase their dreams and I wonder if I have the guts and the strength to do that. It’s easy to fall back into a ‘job’, where you never have to worry about where your next paycheck is coming from. I’ve been wondering if this is my only alternative.

I know my parents want me to go back to a corporate job. They are old-school Asian parents who have spent their lives working 9-to-5 jobs, and they want that same security for their kids. Go to work, clock in the hours, go back, get a salary. Live for the weekends.

I toyed with the idea of doing freelancing full-time, and dropped some hints to my mum. She didn’t say anything, but she did ask me ‘How long can you do this for’? and ‘what about your EPF ? (Malaysian version of social security – employers pay a sum into your account each month)’ – which is basically a big fat ‘NOPE’ to the idea.

I don’t want to let them down. It’s the curse of being the eldest child in an Asian family – they look to you so much to carry on the family legacy, and take care of them when they are older. You’re always under pressure to do the right thing according to what they want, and not what you want – held back by a constant fear of disapproval. Of course I want them to be proud of me, but everything I do seems to be wrong.

Sometimes I envy American kids. I’d rather my parents threw me out so I could fund my own college by working, rather than spending their life savings to fund me and then expecting me to do great things. I fear failure. I fear rejection and disappointment. But I want to do what’s right. And it always tears me apart.

Sorry, this has turned into some ranty shit. I feel better after putting this down though.

The next post will be a happier one, I promise.