Monday, October 5, 2015

The Past 13 Months of My Life

A question I am often asked by friends that I haven't seen in a while is: What have you been up to lately? People ask each other this question all the time, and the response is usually equally rudimentary. However, when I am asked this question, I never know what to say. My life has changed so dramatically in the last 13 months, it is impossible to abbreviate.

I lost my previous job exactly 13 months ago (September 5, 2014). I primarily accepted that position due to circumstance rather than personal justification. I enjoyed certain aspects of it, but I didn't like others. I always asked myself where I wanted to go with my career and I knew the job I had wasn't it, but I wasn't courageous enough to leave due to my income. Losing my job forced me into the direction I truly wanted to go.

With my apartment lease ending shortly after losing my job, I chose to move in with my then girlfriend (now ex girlfriend) near Hershey, PA. We both knew it was too soon for us to be cohabitating, but I didn't have many options. After moving in, I felt stuck. All of the sudden, I was completely unfamiliar with my new surroundings and I didn't have any friends nearby. Despite us getting along very well, my ex and I decided to break up in late February, and I chose to move out by the end of March.

While I was in Hershey for five months, I had several interviews (including second and third interviews), but none translated into a job. When the end of March came, I still had no job, I had no place to live, and my unemployment compensation ended. That was when I called my old manager at Starbucks and asked him for a job.

I never felt more sad and ashamed in my life. Previously, I had a nice job, a nice place to live, and I was in a fulfilling relationship. Within the span of a few months, I was homeless, working minimum wage, and still unable to pay all my bills, despite working full-time.

Fortunately, I had a couple friends who let me stay with them for various periods of time, but it was still extremely depressing not being able to provide for myself. After a couple months, my father provided me with the financial assistance needed to rent a room starting in June.

Things began to turn around due to 4 reasons:

1) I finally had a place to live. Couch surfing took its toll for many reasons, but I finally had my own bed and my own bedroom.
2) My relationships with my coworkers began to mature and I became very close with all of them. Now, I couldn't imagine my life without them and they provided me the social support I needed.
3) I reached a level of mastery at Starbucks that I hadn't felt at my last job, or any job before. A barista isn't a glamorous or high paying job, but being able to do something very well gave my confidence a boost.
4) Around this time, I was also meeting with my career coach, Pierre Luc Beaudry. He was extremely helpful when I was feeling too down to continue my job search. He also helped me realize that I am my happiest when I am working a job that gives me the opportunity to make others happy.

Starting in August, I moved into an apartment with one of my coworkers. It finally gave me my own place, and not just a rented room. I also had an interview as an Insurance Agent for a major insurance company. In the interview, I was asked to give an example of how I adapted to change. It was by far the easiest interview question I ever answered. I explained to them everything I had been through in the last year. They offered me the job that evening.

I thought that was going to be the end of the story, but a few weeks ago, I received a call back from my previous employer, Siemens, for a position I interviewed for a few months ago. I accepted and started working for Siemens again today, October 5, 2015. Exactly 13 months after I was let go.

So, if you ask me today, "What have you been up to lately," I will probably just smile, and reflect on everything that has happened. I still don't know what to say, but whatever happened, I'm glad it did.

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