For three years, after college graduation, I worked as a graphic designer at an ad agency. You could say I was paid decently: The starting salary was just a little under P25,000 per month. I remember being thrilled about it, because it was more than what I thought I’d make—and even more than what my peers were making.
I still remember the day I signed the employment contract. I thought, “This was it.” This was going to be the rest of my life, and it looked stable and okay.
But I was burning out on my eighth month at work. I was getting tired of waking up before 4 a.m. to beat the rush hour traffic, then clocking out at 8 p.m.—sometimes 11 p.m. or 1 a.m. By the time I’d get home, my whole family would be sound asleep. I felt lonely. It didn’t help that my breakouts were never-ending and I just felt so sluggish. Was this part of the job? Is this what it’s like to adult?
While great, the company benefits and the freebies from our clients hardly made me feel any better. I realized that I valued time—for myself and my loved ones—so I needed a more flexible work arrangement that didn’t always spread me so thin.
A friend suggested I try becoming a freelance graphic designer. The idea scared me—it’s not the stable life I had envisioned for myself. What if I don’t get any rakets? But I crunched in the numbers—how much I wanted to earn, how many projects I should have, and how much to charge per project—and found that freelance designing was feasible. It could even make me earn more than twice my salary.
So I quit. I was 24, still scared, but I believed I could survive.
I then created a portfolio online and offered my services to companies. In a matter of weeks, projects poured in and I was busier than ever.
As I hoped, I was earning more than I did before. But I knew I could still do more and do better. When I’d saved enough a few months later, I retired my laptop from college and invested in a new one to boost my productivity. I needed something lightweight and one that could swiftly operate multiple design programs at the same time, so I got the HP Envy x360, which also has a touchscreen display and a pen to get my creative juices flowing. It too is a laptop that can shift to four modes—laptop, tent, tablet, and stand—to suit my different tasks, and I found that impressive.
Like any freelancer, I work wherever, whenever, and however I want—yup, there are days I’m in pajamas as I draft various designs for clients, with my laptop in tablet mode when I’m cozy in the living room sofa by day or illustrating ‘til the wee hours. I love how I don’t feel exhausted, irritated, or stressed even as I work the same long hours as before. Thanks to the flexible work setup, my mind is focused, so it’s easy for me to finish fast and move on to the next assignment or find my next client.
When I’m looking for ways to revise my work, I invert my laptop to tent mode and place it on the kitchen counter, step away, and critique my designs (including videos) with coffee and merienda in hand. The versatility of my devices and working spaces keeps my mind stimulated especially when I take mini or pseudo breaks, allowing new ideas to come to me.
It’s true that being a home-based freelancer barely affords me social interactions. I’m only connected by chatting with or emailing my colleagues while I work (on laptop mode, of course), so the idea of talking to people in person makes me really nervous. But when I do meet with clients or a freelance team of editors for presentations, I’m able to feel comfortable and confident in sharing my work since I know that my laptop, which I twist to standing mode to the amazement of others, accurately and beautifully captures my vision. The good impression my good taste leaves my clients is priceless.
Two years in and I’m making thrice as much as what I was making back at the agency. But the money is not the best part.
All that work and still I have time for myself. I sleep eight hours a night. I spend my mornings in a yoga studio. I’ve even updated my skincare routine and take my time as I go through it. I can now meet with friends, and I catch up with my family at the dinner table.
Everybody now says I look better. My skin is now clear and glowing, I look a lot leaner and healthier. But more importantly, I feel better. My relationships have been rebuilt, and they feel solid. My life feels enriched because of all the things I get to experience outside of work, as well as with my work itself—it’s what I love to do.
My story might sound hard to believe or too good to be true. So you must know that there is a downside, and that’s having to keep looking for the next project because your contract might not be renewed. But even that has taught me the value of a good work ethic, integrity, and hard work—I make it a point to always submit my best, so my clients won’t lose their trust in me and terminate our relationship.
I never thought this flexible setup would work for me. But here I am, writing from the comforts of my home while taking a break from designing, hoping you’ll find the best work setup for you. I hope you live the life that makes you believe that anything is possible, that being an adult doesn’t have to be all about enduring the daily grind.
For more information on the HP Envy x360, follow HP on Facebook.