Hi Anangsha, I think this is the key. It sounds to me, as an outsider, that your mother is coming from a place of genuine concern. It is based on her lived experiences where it may have made perfect sense to seek the comfort of a 9-5 job rather than throw oneself into the relative uncertainty of freelancing.

However, I think it is a false dichotomy to think of the corporate/academic job as "secure" and freelancing as "unstable." If you're coming from a developing country like India (in your case) or Malaysia (in mine), I think freelancing might be the rational choice.

I've been freelancing for 13/14 years now. There has naturally been some uncertainty because clients come and go, and one has to put in some unpaid hours in pitching to new clients to secure a mandate for additional work. But I've still earned enough in the freelancing life to sustain my living, travel, enjoy myself, and invest. The key to managing this are the tremendous wage differentials between Malaysia (and India) and the developed countries.

Of course, there is less "social prestige" associated with freelancing, especially because "oh, I do a bit of freelancing here and there" sounds a lot more unfamiliar than, say, "Oh, I am an engineer for blah blah PSU" or "I am with the IAS from cadre blah blah blah". But, if you ask me, social prestige is overrated anyway and I'd much rather have more financial security than having "social cachet" but wondering if I have enough left over at the end of the month to pay my rent. :)

My personal view - again, from outside - is that the IAS/PSU track is overrated. The "job security" is illusory in that the remuneration is increasingly out of touch with the demands of the modern economy. I'm amazed by how many lakhs of candidates put in so much personal sacrifice every year hoping to clear the UPSC CSE, with the hope of getting into the IAS and, you know, hoping to make it into the Super Time Scale after two decades or so? The odds of getting to that prize are low, and the prize, even if you get it, doesn't seem very desirable.

The path to freelancing is less clear but, thanks to the wage differential, earning a living wage isn't all that difficult (as you have already tasted). Plus, the learning experience is invaluable. Stick with it for a few years and you will learn how to be creative, resilient, and flexible enough to adjust to the constantly shifting demands of the lifestyle. More importantly, you will be accustomed to delivering the results your clients expect despite having severe resource limitations! If you ask me, this is probably a tremendously valuable skillset that someone who is used to working in an MNC, the civil service, or a PSU with their unlimited resources, will find hard to develop.

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