So yesterday, on Leap Day - the 29th of February - that only happens once every four years, I had a miracle.
I found a full time job.
I’m pretty sure that nearly everyone has experienced first hand the tough reality of finding work.
Finding part time work is tough enough. I applied to many different positions and found that I was often “not what we are looking for” or due to my age (a young nearly 26 year old) and experience “you seem overqualified for such a position”.
As much as a few of these comments from various potential employers may hold true, it doesn’t mean I didn’t need the work. In todays US economy, a college degree is quickly becoming the equivalent of what a high school degree once was - with many 20-something-college-grads ending up in jobs that yes may be fun and lead to interesting lifestyles, but are also far underpaid what our parents expected after graduating from college - with much higher debt.
So with that in mind, I didn’t allow these comments to get me down and instead continued the battle to find consistent work in a location I love - Santa Barbara.
Yes, some people probably consider me to be crazy to move to an expensive and desirable California location without a job. But then again, ever since I decided to move to Cape Town, South Africa for 2.5 years - the crazy comments from friends and family have dramatically decreased. (I think I’ve just become “one of those people” who manages to do crazy things that others deem irresponsible, dangerous, spontaneous and just “too out there for a young woman like yourself”.)
But I did it anyway.
I know Santa Barbara is the place I want to be. A place where I enjoy the lifestyle and can honestly live pretty cheaply (other than rent). Currently I am traveling via bike (so no car payments or gas, yay!) and spend most of my off time enjoying free outdoor activities like beach volleyball, running and hiking with friends. I cook nearly every meal at home (low restaurant bills AND healthy food) and don't drink much when I do go out (low alcohol bills). So yes it is possible to do.
Regardless of this, I still knew I needed a steady income.
My first step was to reach out to independent entrepreneurs who needed help with some of their marketing - and a month ago landed my first freelance gig.
Then last week I signed on a second marketing client.
Both of them brought in some funds - but nowhere near enough to cover rent and basic expenses (even with all of my cost cutting strategies above) - so I knew I had to keep looking.
So I did.
And on Sunday I had a particularly difficult conversation with my parents about running into dead end after dead end on the full time job hunt.
It turns out, most of the job hunt is knowing people on the inside blended with pure luck, and up until yesterday, I didn’t have that mix quite figured out yet.
In fact, on Friday, I found myself taking a further step into the unknown by officially becoming a California resident (my Rhode Island license sadly now has a hole in it) and registering to vote as a Californian (side note: to all those millennials, please, please, please get out and vote and make sure that our wonderful USA is not run by a crazy man - please for the sake of all of us who want to travel internationally ever again and don’t want another world war - ok rant over).
I was becoming a California resident with no job and only an address in the area to prove that I was living there. To some people it would seem, what was I thinking?
I was thinking that I needed to step out in FAITH and BELIEVE. Believe the gut feeling that I was supposed to be here in Santa Barbara. The gut feeling that had me telling friends over a year ago that I would likely move back to Santa Barbara when I returned to the States.
So I followed that sense and found some awesomely generous friends (thanks Mike & Amanda!) to crash with who didn’t even try to push me out after a week. And then found my the ideal home with a young woman I met on Craigslist, in a part of town where I could easily access most of the downtown and beach by bike. How PERFECT is that?
The “only” thing missing was a job. This wasn’t a small “only”. It could make or break my ability to stay in the area.
I knew I had a bit of a cushion, but also knew that I had limited time - so had to find something NOW.
Anyway, that is how I got to where I am now.
Application after application seemed to land on deaf ears. I was talking and meeting people - but a job in marketing - that I was qualified for - where I knew the right people - just didn’t seem to exist.
I was losing hope.
I was looking at every alternative hoping that something could work.
My blog? Could I make money with it? Could I start another website and sell a product? If so, what? Could I utilize my studies in nutrition to actually start a health coaching business? Is this really what I wanted to do?
Question after question swirled in my mind daily - but nothing seemed viable enough to make money quickly. And if I was honest with myself, I knew that I didn’t want part of a quick rich scheme. Rather I wanted to build a tribe over time. A community of people who feel empowered by what I write. People who enjoy what I have to say. People who trust me.
A community that I can be generous with - and vulnerable with.
A community that wants to connect. That wants something more than just another flashy website and brand trying to sell something.
Sure, there is great likeliness that this will morph with time. I may further narrow my focus (and I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve that I’m thinking about launching soon). I may offer one on one coaching with people in health and in transition. I may write a book or launch an online course or offer an E-book. Honestly, who knows.
As of right now, all I know is I want be genuine. And I want you - as the reader - to feel that honesty radiating from me to you.
So thats what I’m doing.
And as it turns out, yesterday I went to an interview thinking I would be rejected once again. And rather than be rejected, I was offered another position in the company that is opening up next week. In fact, the young woman who has the position is leaving next Tuesday for her new job and they were very excited at the prospect of having me there to shadow her until she leaves.
So I walked out the door with a job offer.
A job offer that brings stability. A job offer with benefits. And one that means I can stay here and truly make this place home.
It doesn’t mean I’ve abandoned my dream of starting my own company. Far from it.
Rather, this is the stability I need to make my dream a reality. Without the stress of money constantly pressing down, and with my frugal habits I know this allows me to focus full time (outside of work) on building this community and building something that hopefully in the next few years, does work and does provide the lifestyle as well as the financial security I need for the long haul.
So I start tomorrow.
Yes it will be a challenge. Yes it will be a change. And yes I am terrified about everything I am about step into.
But as I know from life’s experiences, God always places you where you are supposed to be. He knows what He is doing even when we don’t.
So I expect this to be a learning experience. One where I will grow and gain new skills. One where I will fail. One where I will succeed. And one where ultimately, I will be glad it happened.
So as I cycle (uphill, mind you) to work tomorrow I will keep this in mind and remember that this is just one more stepping stone in my journey of life.