I heard my sister say it out loud while we were exploring a superstore. That no matter what degree you attained, and when that degree doesn’t pay you well that you can’t meet your physiological needs, you will always find ways to earn more.
It’s not really about being unhappy with your primary job. It’s more about meeting your needs and getting your wants, which your day job probably can’t, and the convergence of an evolving workplace and access to the internet. If people used to get their side hustles by getting second jobs that required them to be physically there, now, you can just tap into the web and look for jobs around the globe.
My sister introduced me to Upwork when I was still in college, way back in 2014, when access to computers and the internet for low-middle-income families still cost a lot. She said that if I needed money, I could always look for an extra job online. It was a year of exploration for me, seeing the possibilities of getting work online. My sister already saw what I was capable of, even if I wasn’t ready then. I am yet to develop the skills I need for online work. Plus, the hybrid workplace or remote work was less common then than it used to now (because of Covid-19).
Although I couldn’t get any job in the platform (yes, I got rejected from my applications, and I did not try harder with applications because it wasn’t a priority at the time), the idea just sat with me until the need arose in 2021. It was a year when I decided to transition to a job I really wanted, and not a good year to get out of a job because it was the pandemic. A time when people must hold onto their jobs while the rest of the world is going through massive layoffs.
I was surprised to find out how long I would remain unemployed at the time, and being unable to meet my physiological need was frustrating. The degree didn’t matter anymore. What I had in mind was to get a job, anything, just so I could put food on the table. I began to reassess what skills I could offer and sent proposals in Upwork as much as possible. I did not stop at the 50th rejection or the 90th rejection. I don’t have anything to lose anymore, so what’s a rejection gonna do? And after relentlessly applying to job after job and learning how to construct my proposals better and better, someone finally gave me the benefit of the doubt.
And that’s when my Upwork freelancing career started.
Even when I finally landed a research project where I could apply my earned degree, I kept my freelancing work. And when the contracts ended, I continued to apply for jobs until I got another contract.
The pay I receive from my full-time work is generous enough to meet my needs as well as buy wants. But more is needed to live a financially flexible life, especially when you come from a low-middle-income class. At the same time, the pay is always delayed (because of the bureaucratic system in place for government contract of service). And I am not just talking about days of delay. It could be half a month, almost a month, a month, or even more than a month of delays. So I am forced to get creative on how to feed hungry mouths.
And after working for about less than ten hours a week, in and out of contracts for two years, I finally got the top-rated badge:
God is so good because I know deep down I wouldn’t get all the clients I did if not for the Lord. Because there have been sleepless nights, I just cry in my bed, wondering how hard it is to do the work you like but still go to bed hungry and wanting. Getting continuous and better clients in Upwork are answered prayer.
And because my salary is still delayed (since 2019), I will keep doing this freelance work in the foreseeable future. I do hope to get more clients and retain the old ones too.
Like my sister once told me at a superstore, “At the end of the day, it’s all about meeting your physiological needs.”