My dopamine levels are going wild. My brain is literally exhausted with how much happiness I am feeling. I must say, this happiness business suits me pretty well.
It looks good on me.
After two years of looking endlessly for a job, I finally found one! To be fair, I have worked pretty consistently in the past two years since I graduated with my M.A. However it was part time, contract, seasonal, or independent contractor work and I definitely had no benefits. (I am still somewhat haunted that I ended up in the ER without insurance last November). I graduated two years ago in New York with the fresh zeal that any new grad has who has been told they could do anything. Having had a nice career before that, I thought for sure I could do bigger and better. Right off the bat, I had interview after interview…and 20 interviews later, I was tired and wanted to move to be with my love. So I moved to Portland and my goodness, the economy is way worse here. I knew the situation, but I thought for sure I’d be a big fish in a small pond. Apparently, it’s pretty small fish tank here, so you have to try to find your place. After having twenty interviews in NYC in a matter of months, I moved to Portland and got somewhat lucky with a contract job right away. However, the numbers don’t lie. I’ve been in Portland a year and half and I’ve had 7 interviews.
Every day for the past two years, I have come home from whatever job I have, and looked for more jobs. I scoured every site imaginable. I crafted carefully tailored cover letters, tweaked my resume, updated my LinkedIn, attended networking events. I did everything that I knew I needed to do. I’ve applied for hundreds of jobs. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and all consuming.
I am so excited about all the free time I am about to inherit! Time will be mine again! I can actually pursue some of the interests I have put on the back burner for so long, because I won’t have to spend all my waking hours looking for or thinking about jobs.
I will say goodbye to food stamps, once and for all. To this day, I have been so humbled by this experience. I never thought I would see the day that someone with a master’s would be on food stamps. The DHS worker who examined my case said it’s fairly common. How depressing is that? I will no longer need a government hand out, but let me tell you, I was glad it was there. Having those funds meant I could still pay my student loans and eat.
I will no longer take b.s. craigslist gigs. When I was desperate, I took a gig as a house cleaner in New York. The first day was fine, but the second was absolutely humiliating. He accused me of not knowing how to clean and that I must be blind because I missed a bread crumb on the table. Oh and he was unemployed too, one of those laid off Wall street folks, who just sat around while I cleaned the house. Of course, he was too lazy to do it himself! I am pretty sure he had me come during the early morning, so I could clean while his wife was at work…I am convinced she had no idea that his lazy a$$ was paying someone to clean their house, when he was home all day and could have clearly done it himself. After he scolded me, fighting tears from my eyes, I said that I didn’t think this was a right fit and I walked out. As soon as I left his house, the tears came flooding. Here I am with a master’s washing someone’s dirty skivvies. Not only that, but another unemployed brethren is humiliating me because apparently even amongst the unemployed, there are hierarchies of power. I think that had to be one of the lowest moments of them all in the past two years.
I have come to realize that so much of who we are is tied up to the work that we do. Not having something stable, not having something to show for all the time and money spent on school, has been a huge drag on my self-esteem. I’ve always considered myself a hustler, a worker and I enjoy making things happen. Anyone who knows me probably said that I’ve done just that in the past two years, but it still wasn’t enough for me. I’ve felt helpless, hopeless, worthless, and down right depressed over the situation. Not having a permanent job or benefits, and having over 50k in student loan debt was a hard pill to swallow.
My situation made me analyze everything in my life. I was afraid I made mistakes all along the way. I did something wrong. I wasn’t good enough. It was so bad that I sought counseling for it. It was creating friction in my relationship. I’ve spent too many nights and days, being stressed out, worried, crying, and fearful. It felt like it would never change. My mom and my partner always said, ‘it will change, just be patient’. Although it is good advice, it is the sort of advice that you know is inevitable and offers no real answers. That’s the thing, there are no magic solutions and sometimes you have no control.
The amazing thing is, I wasn’t even going to apply for this job. I’ve convinced myself that if I don’t have all the qualifications, what’s the point. But after meeting with a colleague and discussing my struggle, he said, you should apply for jobs if you have at least 50% of the qualifications. What’s the worst that can happen? They don’t get back to you. Well, I was used to that, so why not? I wasn’t going to apply for this job because I didn’t have the technical skills required. I also had never had a job title similar to the one posted. However, after reading through the job description and discovering the organization’s mission, I found I had done many relevant things related to the position and that my interests and passion were strongly aligned with the organization.
I know that most people interested in personal finance enjoy the idea of quitting your 9-5 and being location independent. I’m not going to lie, it appeals to me too! But, I have a conflict within myself. While I love traveling, and the idea of being self-employed and being location independent is so appealing, most of my work is based around people, social change and working with communities. To see any results and to actually make a difference, you kind of need to be around. I’ve worked with youth as a mentor, working with them very closely through some of their most personal challenges. I’ve assisted low income families as a translator, helping get social services. My career has largely been based around creating amazing opportunities for youth and or the community. You can call me a non-profit junkie. For me to do my work, I need to immerse myself in the community and stay put for a while. I am so excited about this new organization because it will be a perfect mix of working with communities, sharing ideas, and working towards social change. I guess even after these two years of having a perpetual grey cloud over my head, deep down I am still an idealist.
After two years of psychological abuse, I’ve gotten a reprieve. There is still so much work to do, to heal my inner self, but this is a huge boost. The organization boosted my ego by telling me they are so impressed with my background and experience and they think I will be an asset to the organization! They also freely admitted that they want this position to be creatively fulfilling for me, so that I should bring my ideas and not be shy! I was almost in disbelief hearing these words. In addition to the ego boost, the timing could not have been more perfect. It was as if the universe, seeing my hard work and struggle, finally decided it was my turn. My contract ends this Friday and I start my new job in the middle of next week! That gives me a few days to mentally cleanse, relax, and prepare to rock this job. I will be working in events and communications, so I will be writing, planning events, and doing fun things based around the idea of creating community and social change. I am so motivated, driven, excited, and happy. Emotions I haven’t felt for so long, parts of me that I thought were dead.
The best part is, my debt payoff goals will now be possible! I am essentially going to be making 25% more than I am now, and will have benefits after 90 days. For a low cost, my partner can be on my plan too! I will never ever ever take for granted having a job with benefits. After two years of no benefits, no consistent paychecks, and an ER visit, I am beyond grateful. I can finally make my debt payoff dreams come true. When I started this blog, there was no way in hell that I could actually pay off my debt in 4 years. I didn’t have consistent work and I didn’t make enough money. I just knew that I wanted them gone in 4 years and that something was going to change to make it happen. Now, I have my chance. I will pay off my debt in the time I have stated, if not sooner. I am going to be grateful every day, I am going to remember this moment, I am going to remember being a house cleaner on food stamps, and remember that things do get better. I’m not going to take for granted things like benefits or meaningful work. Nothing is promised to you and you don’t always get what you want.
Things get better, even after everyone tells you it will and you don’t believe them. Even though it was the phrase I hated hearing the most, you really do just have to keep trying. And, just like dating, sometimes as soon as you feel hopeless, or like what-is-the-point, is when you find that thing that you didn’t know was out there. The thing that you couldn’t quite imagine. Because sometimes your life can be even more magical than your imagination and small miracles happen every day.