There are very few things that give me anxiety, and top of that list is unemployment. Although my job requires a lot of mental strength, I enjoy it thoroughly.
I started writing before I was 10 years old, from stories to personal magazines, diaries and journaling. The moment I realized I could get paid to be a writer was life-changing and since the first day I got paid to write, my life truly hasn’t been the same. I got one of my first writing jobs with Opera, one of Nigeria’s leading digital marketing platforms, and I was hired as a copywriter. I couldn’t believe that people were willing to pay me to do things I describe as normal. I wrote marketing copy for multiple clients on a daily basis and I enjoyed it for the most part.
However, I was laid off in April. Not because I wasn’t performing well or meeting my daily targets - no, that wasn’t it. I was laid off because COVID-19 struck and it struck hard. Small businesses began to withdraw from campaigns, new businesses were no longer signing on and existing clients requested for all their ads to be paused. With the change in demand, over 50% of the company staff were laid off and I was one of them. Did I cry? Of course, I did. I was barely hanging on as it was and here came unemployment, my biggest fear! COVID-19 palliatives were announced to be given to citizens but knowing my country, I had no hopes of being a beneficiary of this. So I had no income, no job and no prospects of getting one… or so I thought.
Becoming a freelancer has always been a decision I thought was going to be executed wholeheartedly. It was something I wanted to be prepared for. I was going to have my little corner office, a Macbook, bottled water to my left, a router, and two art pieces sitting above my head as I wrote… but what is a plan?
My first pitch was sent out to a business website in Ghana. They were seeking new voices and I thought ‘why not?’. My second pitch was to a lifestyle magazine that operates in Nigeria and the UK; I was shooting my shot. I got an email back from both publications in less than a week. As a standard for most companies, they asked for my writing samples and portfolio, which I sent almost immediately and I landed my first job as a writer/content creator for both jobs - during a pandemic.
I started writing from home despite the limitations I had placed against myself, and I have everything now but my two art pieces. The weeks I had spent at home bawling my eyes out, gave me a much needed time to work on my blog and decide on what direction I needed my career to go. Losing my job at the beginning of COVID-19 gave me a nudge to take bold steps with myself and my choices. I went from panicking about what to do every morning as an unemployed lady who was still unsure of her career path, to binging Netflix shows and now having daily schedules that make me think that 24 hours are no longer enough.
I am now a freelancer living and working in a pandemic and surviving Nigeria’s economy. In addition, as a freelancer, I work mostly from my home so I am hardly ever amongst a crowd of three or more...so this turn in my career has also helped me socially distance with purpose. I am getting paid even more now than I ever was working from an office, and the 8 hours of moping in an office I had talked about is nothing compared to the round clock I currently work on. I guess working on your own terms lets you overlook a lot of constraints.
I still find it sickening each time I think about the pandemic, but I am grateful for the path I have chosen and the lifestyle I have accustomed myself to. It truly suits me.