“Will you take a picture of me at my rock bottom?” I asked my Aunt in her kitchen in Spokane. She had just handed me a giant Costco box of Clif bars her kids wouldn’t eat and some leftover food for my journey back to Portland. I would end up eating those Clif bars for dinner every night for two weeks until they were gone.
We were visiting Spokane for the weekend, just a few weeks after I’d been fired for the job I moved to Portland for. We were there to get the rest of our stuff out of storage. I had just spent the last few hours lamenting my woes to her about what I assumed was my terrible decision to move away. I had $167 in my checking account, no savings, no job and two higher education degrees that at the time felt as worthless a receipt paper.
Like many other millennials, I was promised that if I went to college and got a degree I could graduate and go do anything I wanted. If I just worked hard, someone would pay me for my hard work. Unfortunately no one told us the economy was going to collapse in 2008 and thousands of graduates would be left scrambling for any part time job that would pay them so they could eat anything besides Clif bars for dinner.
“Many millennials began their working live after the financial meltdown of 2008, when the stock market lost half its value. If they followed their parents’ script, went to college, and took on debt, expecting their parents’ results. Instead they were greeted with an economy in free fall and fewer opportunities in the traditional job market.”Vicki Robinson & Joe Dominguez, Your Money or Your Life
Book review here
We made our way back to Portland and our tiny room at my Aunt and Uncle’s home. Jesse continued to work, and I continued to job search and sleep as much as I could. I didn’t do much else and being awake became kind of exhausting. Eventually I managed to get a part time job that paid $10/hr at an upscale outdoor mall in a city just south of Portland. That income allowed us to apply for an apartment in another city south of Portland and we moved again into a really shitty apartment that we could only just barely afford.
I had a lot of fun at that job, but it was still customer service and it felt like a huge step back from the management position in customer service that I left in Spokane. Except now I was paying twice the amount of rent and didn’t have health insurance on top of no full time work. I was making friends though. They were fun and I dipped back into the drinking again. I would not say I had a problem with drinking I just spent too much of my time and money doing it. I was just coming out of my depression and my new friends helped with that a lot. They also liked to go out a lot and I just went along and had a good time. My Instagram posts from the time do not lie about this.
I still felt really stupid for leaving a full time job that paid more to start a part time job that paid less. So I made sure to make my job seem extra fun and cool online. The thing is it was fun and cool. I was working for the property management company for the mall and they let me help out in the office a few days a week doing some marketing, which was the field I was trying to get into. My boss was crazy, but the people were nice and my coworkers were really wonderful. But still, I wanted everyone online to believe that it was paying me much more than it was and it was a full time real career job. That was just a damn lie.
Eventually I had to get a full time job. The part time work was not cutting it and I also really needed to figure out something that would boost me into marketing. So I took a job at FedEx Office, which was really another glorified customer service gig, but with the promise of learning Adobe Creative Suites on the side. A promise that was kept and allowed me to get my next and first career job. So it all worked out but I just have to say that that job was almost worse than any other customer service job I had previously. I don’t know what it is about a place that is literally just supposed to ship packages and print paper for you, but holy shit I’d never been so disrespected in my life. So I spent a lot of time really fucking mad. I’d go to work mad, come home mad, and spend my time off getting mad about having to go back to work. What a nightmare.
The cool part about FedEx though was that I worked with a lot of older people who were really helpful and encouraging to me to not work there forever. They really helped hone my Photoshop skills and we got in some damn good Photoshop wars.
Eventually I’d come home from work and apply for five jobs a day. I was getting interviews like crazy, but nothing was panning out. Then I got a call for a job I didn’t even remember applying to. They wanted to interview me. I spent the next day actually reading through my job application and figuring out what in the world the job was for. Honestly, I still didn’t get it. It was an architecture and engineering firm and they wanted a marketing coordinator to work on things called proposals and put them into layout so I had to know InDesign. Well, of all the creative suites, InDesign was not my strongest, but what the hell. I did the interview and more than the job or the company I really felt strongly toward the woman who interviewed me. She was really excited about my background and didn’t mind at all that I had no experience in the industry or doing anything remotely like this. I almost cried when she actually looked at my education and said my degrees were what helped her make the decision to call me for an interview. Every interview I’d been on before then hadn’t even asked me about them. She could tell from all the side work I had been doing that I was really serious about landing something full time that could benefit from my writing and computer skills. I accepted the job and my income doubled over night.
I did it! I was working full time, not living pay check to pay check and I had some amazing coworkers….for about three months. Then the restructuring came. The company wasn’t doing too well. They laid off my boss, who was really my support with the company, then my amazing co workers all started to take new jobs because they didn’t like the new management. Also, I hated the projects we were working on and without the support of my old boss I was left to do a job I wasn’t really prepared for or hired on to do. Still, my online presence was assuring anyone who was watching that I had MADE IT.
So I spent my days looking for a way out again. My group that started with six people went down to 100% turnover in a year. They hired one person to help me and I was suddenly the most senior marketer at the company with one year of experience. Luckily they hired someone really amazing who had been in the industry forever and realized her mistake in taking this job the moment she showed up. We both were trying to get out and she actually helped me get an interview at the company I work at now.
Now I could tell you that my new job of almost two years is perfect and wonderful and I have it made. It’s true my income shot up again with it, and I do have a great office location with amazing coworkers. I am lucky in that regard. but I am coming to realize that this industry is not for me. I like it well enough and it works for now, but I’m not raving all over social media about my perfect occupation or anything anymore. It just wouldn’t’ be the truth. The truth is it’s working for now and I’m happy enough.
Five years ago I would have looked at me now and thought YES WE FINALLY DID IT. WE HAVE ARRIVED. But the more I work and the more time I put into something I’m not super passionate about the less I think I really have ‘made it’. I’m starting to realize that there is nothing more valuable than my time. The moments I have left. How do I want to spend it?
So that’s the truth of my entire journey from Spokane to Portland. It’s been kind of crazy. The beginning had lots of downs, and I wasn’t always honest online about any of it really. The last three years though have been really lovely and I’m enjoying it a lot. We’ll see what happens next, but I promise I’ll be more honest about it as it comes up.
Push Ups: Still on a resting break as my wrist has been killing me this week, but I am 95% healed and will take up the task of getting back to it this next week. I don’t want to give up on this goal.