Every person has a story about how they got to where they are now. We make jokes about 20 year olds who are millionaires and wonder what we’re doing with our lives, but each person’s path is different. There is no ‘right’ way and all of us are imperfect with road blocks along the way. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while but stopped several times because I wasn’t sure if people cared. Then I realized I had a story to tell, just like everyone else, that might aid someone else who is on their journey of either achieving their dream job or who has hit a bottom.
My story is of hard work, hitting some of the lowest points, and achieving a career I never expected. At my lowest point I spent a lot of time talking to people who were successful and I learned that so many of these people had reached some of the lowest points as well. Originally, I thought only people who grew up with a silver spoon were successful. But it’s from these people that I learned that while some people achieve success sooner or through easier means, there are also people who have gone through far worse than me and have achieved a lot.
Preparing for Adulting since High School
Growing up I didn’t have a lot of money. From the start of high school I knew that if I wanted to go to college I would have to find out how to do that myself. As soon as I turned 16 I started working and saved almost every penny I could so that I could attend college. Well, by the end of my senior year, despite long hours, I did not even have enough for a semester at a public university (hint: college is too expensive). Luckily I spent every moment of my high school doing extra curricular activities, getting the highest marks I could, and building up my resume. Since high school I had being a working adult on my mind!
Fortune found me in the form of a full ride scholarship to a University. Still I knew the game was not over. I knew I wanted to work in a non-profit. Once again I spent hours working to get the best grades, worked a job, and interned for multiple non-profits and volunteered in my free time. I did masters work at a bachelors level. Looking back I honestly didn’t know what more I could have done to prepare myself for a job. I had already worked enough.
Post Grad Blues
Why do I tell you all of that? Well after graduation my resume was full and yet I applied for job after job and got rejection after rejection. All of my friends went on to get careers or to go to grad school and I felt ashamed. After several months of applying for jobs and hearing nothing I knew I needed an income. With no options, I applied at a local coffee shop while taking masters classes. All the while I continued to apply for jobs. Every time I heard I didn’t have enough experience.
Didn’t have enough experience? I had 4 years of internships + jobs in relevant fields. There was nothing more I could do as a recent grad. I was getting my resume reviewed and practicing on interview skills. What I was starting to think was that it wasn’t about my lack of experience. It was about my lack of connections.
I sank lower and lower with bitterness. I felt betrayed by all of the work that I had put in for 8 years so I could get a job. I chased the American dream of hard work and fell short. To be honest I spent some time questioning the point of life. I had people condescending me about their coffee not being the proper temperature when what I really wanted to talk about real issues in society of poverty and refugees and homelessness. I’m thankful to my now husband who stood by me in one of the hardest moments of my life. I had lost all sense of self-worth and had no hope of ever being anything more than a barista.
An Unexpected Hope
During this time I met someone who taught me about something I had never heard of. Temp Employment agencies. Maybe it’s common knowledge but in all of my job searching I had never heard of them. I filled out an application and shortly moved from my coffee job to working data entry at an investment firm.
It wasn’t what I wanted of course, but there were so many wonderful things that came out of it. First, I had a boost of income. Second, I worked in a small agency. This meant that my boss had more time to get to know me. I had freedom to take breaks more easily. I learned that water cooler chat was a thing. Also, I could actually listen to podcasts while working meaning I listened to every episode of anything that would teach me something. And no one got mad at me because their latte didn’t have enough whipped cream. I worked crazy hard and was recognized for it. My boss started talking to me about one day transitioning into a role with greater responsibility. Although I had never had considered learning about investments and accounting I found it interesting.
The biggest blessing of this job: renewed self-confidence and a sense of self-worth.
Although I enjoyed the job it still wasn’t what I wanted to do and it still wasn’t perfect (the pay was under a livable wage and I came home with awful headaches every day). I continued to apply for non-profit jobs. To me education was the gateway to financial freedom and I searched for those jobs that would let me invest in others.
One day I finally got a bite. I thank my previous job for this because I felt so much more confident walking into the interview. In previous interviews I was desperate. While I truly wanted this job, I had the comfort of knowing if I didn’t get it there was still a job waiting for me that one day promised more. I went through the interview process and got the job!
I was ecstatic! The job served a purpose that I felt passionate about. The pay was more than I would have expected. I had more flexibility than my previous job. I spent a year going on and on about how it was the perfect job and I couldn’t be happier. I finished the day with energy and looked forward to going into work in the morning.
Happily Ever After?
Honestly, I expected my journey to end there. I figured I would move my way up in the company. While I worked and waited, I spent my weekends travelling across Texas. I didn’t have enough time to go to far off places, but I could find cool things close by. I visited the Texas wine country of Fredericksburg, spent a day in the gorgeous Weatherford, and went sand surfing at Monahans. I loved my life: working a job I was passionate about on the weekdays and travelling on the weekends.
Like any millennial I posted my pictures of travels on Instagram. Then people started asking about the places I was visiting. Then a brand reached out to me to promote a product and even paid! Slowly I learned about blogging and social media. With everything else I had done, I poured all of my extra time and heart into building a blog. Now I had a job and a side hustle that funded my travel addiction.
What I did not expect was the positive dilemma that came next. Due to travel blogging I was running out of time. I was getting deals that I couldn’t keep up with. It came to the point where I realized I either had to turn down gigs or go full time. While I loved my job, I enjoyed being able to write and travel more and so I took the leap. I quit my job and became a full time travel writer.
So I wrote this for several reasons. I write this for the person who wants to be a blogger and to know that normal people can achieve it (although it takes a lot of work). I write it for those who are searching for a job and feel hopeless. I write it for those who think things are easy. Never expect them to be. I write this to remember to never take what I have for granted.
I learned several lessons from this journey. This most important one is to never give up and always to preserve. However there were some more subtle ones as well.
I also learned how people can treat some people so cruel. I’ve spent years in the service industry and am disgusted with how myself and people around me were treated. I put all my heart and passion into serving coffee. I took pride when I got to work behind the bars and create the perfect latte. But so often people treated me as less than. I worked some of my hardest days on my feet all day and came home with little to no energy. Every job is valuable and every person who works in those jobs are valuable and deserve to be treated with the highest of respect.
The truth is some degrees are worth more than others and as woman we are somehow conditioned to think we will enjoy the ones with less of a payout more. I got a degree in Psychology. It’s a great degree. Looking back at my job at the investment firm, I realize I probably would have loved numbers just as much but it was never nurtured in me enough. The non-profit I worked for was based around education and technology. If I could go back and do anything over I would absolutely get a computer science degree. I love problem solving, but was always under the impression that anything technology related was boring.
I think the funniest (not sure if that’s the right word) thing is how I spent around 10 years working to achieve a job that in the end I’m not even doing! I don’t regret it though. I learned things that will take me forward. As my business continues to grow, I want to invest in people so that they can grow and achieve their dreams as well. I partner with non-profits when I get the chance. I’m working on a series so people can learn about travel related jobs so they can achieve their travel dreams. I’m working towards adding ways to share educational resources for people who want a great job with a big focus on tech. No matter what you do, you still have the opportunity to make an impact in unique ways.
I’m still not where I want to be and I have a lot to learn, but I have come so far from the person who lost all hope in herself. If this is ever you do not give up. Find stories of successful people and realize that most people did not just get lucky. Keep striving to be creative in solving the problem. It might be not be the path you chose, but you might find something else that you find you love. Even my data entry/investment job had a potential for something great even it would take longer than the others. If something happens and my website fails, I already have a backup plan to learn programming, a career I would have never considered before. There is always hope if you open your mind.