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It’s been almost three months into my retrenchment, and what do you know… for the first time during the period, I’m offline—mainly just to have some “moments” of silence.  I’ve always been online and not having to attend to notifications is quite a reprieve, and I’m just in the first few hours into my digital blackout.

All these times I’ve always been connected I admit I was severely distracted.  After all these times, I’ve still yet found the latest iteration of my resume.  After all these times, I’ve still yet decided where to take my life from here.  There’s just one thing I’m sure of at the moment—I’m ready to end my sabbatical.

These three months gave me the opportunity to realize a few things.  One is that freelancing is really much more difficult than your usual office work, and two, people actually think you’re lazy if you don’t have “work!”  On one side I’d like to brag that since I managed my finances well, I can live off my excesses and actually keep this up comfortably for the next few months while still having savings the usual office worker could only dream.  On the other hand I’d much rather not argue and let them think what they think.  Even at the peak of my income, I was never really known to be a showoff.

I’ve always tried to live within my means.  I’ve always known how difficult it is to earn money since I started working since I was a teenager to pay for the latter part of my college degree.   Surely, I could’ve saved much more if I hadn’t discovered Starbucks or fine dining or travelling abroad, etc. but that’s why we earn in the first place—to enjoy life.  Money is a poor companion, and as I learned just before I was retrenched, more money doesn’t really mean more happiness.  Sometimes we think that having a high income job is better, but it’s not really so.

My last work before this retrenchment was my highest paying job.  I would be very lucky if I would find work here in the Philippines that would even pay close to what I had (given my job description of course).  But it was also the most stressful time of my life—I come to work practically like a machine!  Me and my colleagues were so busy that we render overtime daily of at least an hour, and were only able to talk to each other during lunch break!  And we even have our lunch inside the office!  Definitely not my definition of living—it was hard work in every essence of the words.

On the materialistic side of life, my hard work was indeed paying off.  During that time I was able to get my two most expensive gadgets: Sony NEX-5N and Samsung Galaxy Note.  It was also the time I was able to afford “wasting” money when I got a Dell Streak (which was probably the worst gadget I had ever bought).  I guess that’s how stressed I was as I seek refuge with expensive “toys.”

Now that I have practically zero income, living within my means would take on a ridiculous meaning if taken seriously.  Living in a city without spending is impossible as you have to pay for some of modern life’s essentials like electricity and phone, not to mention food.  It’s a good thing we don’t pay for rent and my internet is included with my phone line.  The funny thing is that I discovered I could really be frugal when called for!  The result of course is that I come out of the house only when needed, and I only buy the things I need—back to what’s really important.  But even on a very tight budget, there are three things I could never give up: my gym membership, my credit card, and my postpaid phone line.  These three are the remnants of my old lifestyle, and it would be very difficult to restore once I return to “normal.”

I had always placed my health first so I really won’t give up my gym membership—especially now that I’m achieving the body I like, which I’m starting to capitalize on as well.  Too bad though, I’m not able to go to the gym as much as I wanted to because of budget constraints.

If managed well, credit cards can be your friend.  My credit cards allow me to defer all my payments towards the end of the month so I didn’t have to withdraw cash all the time.  We all know that cash at hand doesn’t really linger in your hands.  Besides, I only use it now to pay for groceries.

Postpaid line—my lifeline to the world.  As much as I want to cut this, I can’t really afford to be disconnected for very long as my internet connection relies on it, and all my sidelines are posted online.  Indeed, internet had become as essential as electricity and it’s a curse that you can’t work around it.  As of the moment, my 30-day internet subscription had just expired, and I am a bit short on my credits to renew my subscription.

Income—it’s something we all want and need, but for the past three months have been highly elusive to me.  It’s funny that for the past three months, I found these from the least expected means—via writing and, get this, a bikini contest!  Writing was of course had the much better pay among the two as I had been doing it for a long time, but never did I imagine I could (or would) join a bikini contest, let alone get some money off of it!  As a first timer of course it’s farfetched to win against veterans, but indeed it was a fun experience.  This actually opened up my horizon towards modeling and even movies, but as of the moment they’re all pending applications.

Modeling was actually one of the things I always wanted to do.  If I was 10 years younger (and three inch taller) I would really pursue this as a career, but age (and height) don’t always work for my favor so even if there are projects I really wanted and know I can best fit, my chances aren’t always that good.  Movies I think are much more “accommodating” but “indie” movies are more prevalent these days, and I haven’t had the chance to encounter a good one with a decent pay.

After three months, yes it’s definitely time to go back to what everyone perceives as “normal.”  As to whether I can get a decent employment here in the Philippines remains to be seen, but I’m still haunted by the trauma my previous employment caused me.  Sure I want the best pay possible, but I don’t know if I can find one that would has a healthy work-life balance.  From my experience, employers want the most out of every cent they pay so if I’d pick a high paying job, chances are I might be saying adios as well to my gym, running, travel, and quality time with myself and loved ones.

I sure hope I find that “perfect” job for me, with the best employers possible.  I’ve long missed saying, “I love my job” and I wanted to say that again.  There are of course other options I could choose, but as of now seeking employment is the “obvious” option, but the coming days may hold some other surprises.

As much as I love staying at home whole day practically doing not much of anything, I want to be part of the tax-paying community once again. 🙂

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