I cannot tell you how many times I have read about embracing failure and how it will lead to success. To be quite honest it’s currently leading me to stagnant growth or lack there of. It’s the start of a new year- 2020 and I spent my entire New Years Eve applying to jobs. Woke up this morning to a denial email (from an application I sent on 12/18) and felt defeated. Let me sum up a back story so we can fully digest my situation.
I travelled the ’World’ solo from September 2018 until September 2019. I saw places and met people that changed me entirely- for the better! Before this trip I was working a normal corporate sales job in Annapolis, MD. I lived alone in my own ‘luxury’ apartment because having granite, gas appliances, and a secure building were important to me. From the outside, I was happy and fulfilled, and I was… until I wasn’t.
I had everything I had wanted including freedom, friends, and time. Then I lost it, my steady 9-6 job was no longer enjoyable… and never ended by 6. Those long hours weren’t bad, the toxic environment was. I adjusted to a routine that worked to keep up with my life because I NEEDED a balance even more so but then I turned into a robot. I was burnt out. I couldn’t fathom living that way anymore. Yet, again, I had every’thing’ I could want except I was missing freedom and time; I lost the balance of spontaneity that comes with freedom and time. That’s when I decided to quit that life and travel before starting over.
Quitting my job to travel
“Good talent leaves companies who disprespect them” “Top 10 reasons good employees leave good corporations… Toxic environments” There are tons of articles supporting these paraphrased quotes. It’s crazy to expect employees to stay with a company as dynamics change, and unfortunately speaking up doesn’t always translate properly. I loved my job and my company… but after lots of changes (3 positions replaced multiple times in 2 years) I saw healthy and I saw unhealthy. I saw respect and disrespect. And I didn’t like how I was treated or who I was becoming.
When you speak up and nothing changes, you have to make the change.. first I tried changing my own communication, speaking with the specific people directly about issues… etc. In the end, the environment would always cycle back to toxic so I removed myself. I do not regret that choice one bit.
I wasn’t expecting to find anything specific from traveling… although I knew it would be a teacher, as it has always been. You see, I’ve traveled my whole life and each experience taught me something and changed me slightly. Solo travel in countries with ENTIRELY different cultures was much more than a quick lesson and much more than a slight change. My 4 months of travel through Asia were the most transformative experiences in my traveling year… that, and a weekend in Dana Point, CA. I wasn’t influenced by social media, I didn’t have FOMO… all I subscribed to at that time was meme’s. I just knew I needed to go and it was time. I knew I didn’t want to continue in the route I was in, and I also knew I did not want to stay on the East Coast, maybe not even America. And with that… I quit my job, packed my things, attended my friend’s wedding, and jumped on the road.
What happens after travelling?
I finished my year travelling by driving across the country for the 3rd time and returning back through Canada. I came back knowing I’d be living at my dad’s house while I prepared to move across the country. I figured I’d just put out some applications, and jump back into the real world- bringing my new perspective with me. This would include finding a career path that would truly give me purpose. It’s been 4 months.
Those 4 months in Asia were life changing and these last 4 months are everything but. I’m truly questioning all the insignts I gained and person I’ve become. Are we meant to serve a purpose? Or are we all just running in a rat race to survive comfortably until we die? How depressing… I’m not sure it’s healthy to self- diagnose (who said I was healthy?), those times of positive change were in sunny climates, and I’m currently enduring a dark winter in Maryland where the sun sets by 5pm and I only go outside once a week. Is this seasonal depression? Write me a prescription for some sun and throw me back into the woods!
Upon returning, I was set on moving to Denver. I went to Denver and scouted out apartments, and then I couldn’t find purposeful work. So I got flexible- I became more lenient on where I would live- so long as I could find the type of work I felt was worthy of my skills. Did I just say that? Yeah, so I built up a ton of confidence by traveling solo, and I recognize the values I bring to a company because I’ve heard it from my customers. So where has this left me? Jobless.
The more I talk about what I want to do, or the kind of company I want to work for… I’m looking at you B Corp’s, the more I hear society doubting my future. I’m wondering if the gap year is just praised, but never truly valued by corporations.
Finding motivation to get back on the wheel
I have been researching companies all over the United States, and I work in sales- so the industries are diverse. While, I am happy to see many companies are putting more value on PTO, VTO, and telecommuting- I’m not sure they are really changing. In fact, the company I worked for before I took my big trip included all the above- except the telecommuting didn’t apply to my role. Even then, PTO and VTO wasn’t easy to come by.
I’ve also been reading articles about changes in the USA workplace, companies finally valuing their talent over their product. I read company values/culture pages regularly and many of the places I apply to talk about the importance of unlimited PTO, sabbaticals, and flexible telecommuting options. I pick them not for more time off, I pick them because they claim to understand how a gap in work to travel would substitue and add value. They are literally talking about how important it is for their employees to take time to disconnect and recharge, some even offer monthly stipends for massages or out-of-work hobbies.
Every role I apply to, I am qualified for: with education, experience, and proven results. I write brand new, from scratch, cover letters to each company. I’m not mad I’m not getting the jobs, I’m mad I’m not getting the opportunity to interview. I continue to recieve the generic email saying: “Thank you for applying… Unfortunately…” FAILURE. What gives? I know I am picky… but by now I should’ve interviewed with more companies than I have. Am I suppose to find momentum from these emails? Does Failure actually give you the resilence necessary for success? The companies that do interview me say I’m a great candidate and the one I went the furthest with had no constructive feedback to help me in my continued search. What gives?
I’m thinking I’m better off moving where I want to play (hike, socialize, climb).. and working only to sustain that lifestyle. AKA I’m backtracking… will I just join the rat race again? Will I turn into a robot with no spontaneity again? I’ve debated 2 options: making the move to Denver, after more consideration I have concluded again- I want to be in Colorado, before the job; OR live the vanlife. The only other place I’d consider planting roots is the PNWonderland (had to), of the two stationary options, Denver makes the most sense for me.
There are different factors to each that are causing me to sit still. So I will remain in Maryland for now.
My first reboot of life
I should also share, it’s not my first time starting over. I started over when I was in a relationship and my other half was relocated 8 hours south to Charleston. I left my job and we moved to South Carolina (we already were living together in MD). Without a visit to tour apartments, I found us one online and it worked out.
It took me 6 months to find a job with a company there. I’m picky about who I work for, but realistic at the same time. The cost of living in Charleston was low and with 2 people it was even cheaper! I was able to afford my portion of rent during those 6 months being jobless and we had a 2B2B. That all started in the end of 2014.
The second time was in 2016, when I left that relationship- I cancelled our wedding, and went from fiancé to single… to homeless. I could’ve stayed in Charleston, SC. but ultimately decided to go back to MD. I lived with my mom while I looked for work and found a fulfilling job at the place mentioned before, that also took about 6 months to find…
Those 6 months were different. I was in a 4 month interview process with a very reputable company- and while I still was looking elsewhere, I could not take a job knowing how far I was in the process with the one I wanted. The one I did want verbally offered me the job. I then received a follow up saying coroporate needed to have a video interview- a quick screen just to make sure there was no discrepencies in the hiring process. There were not, I did not know anyone in the company before the interviews, also they found me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just a screening because for some reason after that I was told they would not be sending a formal offer. There was no feedback given, in fact the hiring manager endorsed me and said he was terribly sorry and was misinformed by his own HQ. I also met in person with directors… etc before the last call. After that… I hit the ground running pretty hard again. I love my parents, but I don’t like living with them. In the end, I was then offered the job I took and another job that paid more.
That’s why when I left my job
I knew I could get everything back if I ever wanted it.
Easier said than done. I guess it takes 6 months… I have 2 months to go. I’m just really concerned about the relocation part. What comes first the chicken or the egg… the job or the city? The cost of living in Denver is the same as Annapolis, but the pay doesn’t match. I don’t want to settle. Stay tuned.
In the meantime…
Between job searching, applications, and the few and far between interviews… I see friends and family, take Skillshare classes, listen to podcasts, read a ton, and connect with nature- I hike a lot! I’m also constantly volunteering my time (unregistered) to clean up the planet, to impact the environment, and to influence those around me to make their own positive changes.
This is my purpose.