If there’s anything I’ve learned in the past awkward years, it’s how to stay at home for days, even weeks at a time without going out (or losing my mind in the process, at least not entirely).
I never thought my unhealthy lifestyle could result in useful insights for others. But a lot of my back-and-forth texts with friends these days start with “lol, you’ve been doing this forever” and end with me throwing ideas, resources, and suggestions from experience at them.
So, here they are.
This is how a weird mix of freelancing, depression, workaholism, anxiety, and passion have helped me embrace isolation long before it was necessary.
And I hope it somehow might help you too.
I TRANSFERRED MY SKILLS INTO DIGITAL ASSETS
For now, it seems like the digital space is our new home. For me, it’s been my home for the past five years of full-time freelancing.
I had a broad skill I was fairly good at (communication), which I gradually narrowed down to a more specific skill that I was great at (content writing).
In the beginning, I plunged into my broad skill and tried everything I could within it. Journalism, copywriting, public relations, social media management, proofreading, editing, even digital ads management. You name it.
I performed well in a few of those areas. In others, I failed miserably. I even came to despise some (*cough cough* ads management *cough cough*).
But after a shitload of trial and error, I found the sweet spot at the intersection of high performance, demand, convenience, and passion (more on that in a sec). In my case, it was long-form content writing.
High performance = competence, experience, knowledge, quality
Demand = clients eager for all of the above
Convenience = I could work from home, whenever I wanted and how much I wanted
Passion = there’s nothing I love to do more than writing
In this troubled climate, how can you take the skills you have and transfer them into digital assets and freelance services?
- Learn how to market yourself as a freelancer (Jorden Makelle’s YouTube channel changed my life).
- Join quality Facebook groups for freelancers, both local and international (Freelancing Females is one of my favorites, Female Freelance Writers helped me land my dream client earlier this year)
- Google online job boards for skill-specific opportunities (i.e. ProBlogger for writers, Behance for graphic designers, LinkedIn for everything)
- Look into remote work opportunities (here is a Google Doc I found in an international Facebook group with +100 companies offering remote jobs in various fields)
- Search for freelancing jobs on platforms like Fiverr, Upwork, PeoplePerHour
If your business or industry or has been highly affected thus far, how can you make the most of the online world to move forward?
- Stay in touch with your customers on social media, from posts, to stories, DMs, Q&As, etc.
- Promote the hardworking people behind your business with meet-the-team content
- Blog about your industry and/or brand (a former client and close friend is doing a great job at this)
- Be of service by sharing professional insights with others in need
- Brainstorm ideas for putting positive content in your customers’ online feeds
I LOVE WHAT I DO
Throughout the years, I’ve been through more sleepless work nights than I can count. But I’ve loved each and every one of them. Because I love what I do.
I don’t mind being locked in the house for days hustling to meet a deadline. Because I chose the project and I’m committed to giving it 100%.
I don’t mind spending hours and hours on research, and moodboards, and soundtracks. Because I love the process even more than the result.
If you hated your job before all of this happened, this is your wake-up call to rethink your career. Even if it means starting from scratch and learning completely new skills that are aligned with your real passion.
Thankfully, there are tons of free online courses out there right now, many of which you’ve probably seen during the past weeks. If not, here are just a handful of the opportunities available right now:
- 500 Ivy League Free Online Courses
- 10 University Art Classes You Can Take for Free Online
- 25 Free Online Courses for Freelancers
- Udemy Free Courses Search Engine
I ANALYZED MYSELF
However, not all of my long-time isolation tendencies boil down to work.
By now, you probably know that I have my fair share of struggles in terms of mental health. When shit hits the fan and I eventually fall into another cycle, isolation is among my go-to coping mechanisms.
In the process, I’ve lost friends, opportunities, events, confidence, and more potential memories than I can count. But I’ve also gained something priceless: introspection.
When I couldn’t work up the strength to talk to other people about what I was going through, I had the conversation with myself in my head.
When I was too anxious to go out and meet up with friends, I spent the time going back to the roots and causes of my problems.
When I could barely look at myself in the mirror because of how disgusted I was by what I had let myself become, I thought of what decisions I could make to change my life for the better.
Introspection leads to awareness. Awareness leads to ideas. Ideas lead to actions.
And I wouldn’t have been able to make any of the positive decisions that guided me to where I am right now without it.
It’s scary as fuck to be alone with yourself. Just you and your thoughts. Especially when they appear to be more destructive than any external factor.
But it’s necessary if you ever want things to change for you.
I GAVE MYSELF A PURPOSE
From workaholism to mental breakdowns, I’ve somehow succeeded in finding solace in isolation during all these years by giving myself a purpose.
If I wasn’t working, I was making music.
If I wasn’t making music, I was reading.
If I wasn’t reading, I was brainstorming creative concepts with my soulmate.
Now, I’m sharing stories with you here.
I always have a purpose, and when I don’t have one, I find one.
Isolation can be a blessing just as much as it seems to be a curse.
And today, the Universe is blessing us with the gift of time.
From this point forward, it’s all about how we decide to spend it.
Gold Nuggets is a series with life lessons that I’ve learned the hard way.