As of last week, I’ve been freelancing for exactly a year—and what a weird year it’s been. After being jettisoned from my job, I started—like any good American—earnestly looking for my next gig. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum. Random writing/producing/directing gigs started raining down upon me like manna from heaven.
For the first three months, life was fairly normal. I had so many odd opportunities on my plate, I had trouble taking them all on. Behind the scenes, I hired a career coach to spruce up my resume and my LinkedIn profile. I started going to networking meetings, which quickly became the bane of my existence. While you’d think I’d be good at small talk, I’m not. I find incessant, non-productive banter insufferable. It hurts my ears.
I was positive another full-time job was right around the corner. Completely, 100 percent positive. Why? Because I was being positively positive. The universe had other plans—and freelance jobs kept being handed to me on a silver platter. “It’s like you’re standing under the tree of abundance,” my career coach told me. “Apples keep falling and you just keep catching them. They’re practically bonking you on the head.”
In early February, I struck gold. (Figuratively, not literally. Trust and believe, I was still just eking by financially.) After two (three? four?) failed attempts, I finally got accepted to SATW, the Society of American Travel Writers. It’s a pretty prestigious club to be in. I was now part of vetted group of journalists dedicated to writing about all things travel and tourism. Doors started opening. Two days later I was invited to visit Shreveport and muse about their raucous Mardi Gras celebrations. It was a surreal, bead-iful experience, and I soaked every bit of it up. (Read about my adventures here.)
Every time I’d start to mope about being passed over for another job or not getting a callback, my friends would remind me how good I had it. There were countless occasions they’d have to beat me over the head with that mantra. I was determined to get back into the job market come hell or high water. I wrote a heartfelt blog about manifesting my dream job and what that entailed. I posted it at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday and never thought another thing of it. Uh, again, the universe had other plans. 24 hours later it had been shared nearly 500 times. Recruiters were calling me. Headhunters were hounding me. TV stations wanted me to talk about the job hunt.
While I’d like to say that blog secured my next employment endeavor, it did not. Instead, it sent me on a bazillion, fruitless wild goose chases for jobs that A) I ultimately didn’t want or B) had no appeal, allure, or luster. So, I forged ahead—tackling any/all freelance writing gigs that came my way.
Along the way, I traveled like a vagabond and wrote as much as humanly possible. A travel writer’s gotta travel, right? I called friends, Romans, and countrymen and begged to crash in their spare bedrooms. I obliterated my frequent flier miles. Come to think of it, I’ve done more unabashed traveling in the last 12 months than I have in my entire life.
Let’s recap, shall we: Detroit, Newark, Tampa, Austin (X5), Birmingham, Des Moines (X6), Puerto Vallarta, Shreveport, Destin, Door County, Orlando, Big Fork, Fort Lauderdale, Guadalajara, Mackinac Island, Omaha, Iowa City, Richmond, Galveston, and Ann Arbor.
Travel was an escape, but the fact was—I was still hopelessly unemployed and pining for a job. A big-boy job. I kept interviewing—to little avail. At one company, I had nine interviews over a four-week period.
Yes, re-read that. Nine. Interviews.
The company even flew me to their headquarters on the east coast for a meet-and-greet. In my head, I already had secured the job: 1) because they were creating this position for me and 2) I am, after all, me. After returning to KC, the company ghosted me. This time the universe said, “PSYCHE!” That experience wasn’t good for my mental state, my fragile ego, or my optimistic spirit.
For all the undeserved lows, there was always a silver lining. For instance, my freelance gigs kept magically appearing—which, in turn, kept me positively occupied. It more than sustained me for another few months. Over the last year, I’ve truly only had to sweat finances a couple of times. Otherwise, God always sent provisions at the 12th hour. (It also helped I kept my Xanax prescription filled.)
Today, I start a new full-time job—one that I was initially hesitant to accept because it sounded too good to be true—and I didn’t want to be let down again. My medium, meanwhile, reminded me to trust in the process—and what the universe has in store. (Yes, I have a medium. And yes, she’s always right.) The last 12 months have been a mystifying whirlwind of wild, whackadoo opportunities. As I’ve done over the last year, I’m going to embrace whatever comes next. It’s the only thing that will keep me sane. (Wait—where’d I put my Xanax again?)
A word of advice: if you’re on the hunt for a new job, keep up the good fight. Don’t settle. And don’t get discouraged. More importantly, know your worth. If you don’t strive for the sun, moon, and stars—you likely won’t get any of ’em.
Oh, and yes, I’ll still do occasional freelance work on the side. And travel writing assignments, too. I’d like to think I’ve gotten quite good at both of ’em. Let’s just say I’ve had a lot of practice.