Category Archives: Career

A Real Career to Support My Family

The new job is great. My boss respects me. My compensation structure makes sense (lower base than last job, but substantial room for bonus and stock appreciation.) The team works together well and everyone plays their part. Why, then, am I still so concerned about the future?

It’s not this job. It’s still this career. Being in a larger company is helping… but I’m still extremely stressed everyday, feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing. I know I need to hang on for four years in this job, to build that stability profile, to capture the value of the stock, to really add value to my company’s business. My objective is to be a wonderful employee. I don’t plan to ever ask for a raise, or anything more than what I have now. I just want to survive and be known as an asset to the business.

Even if I can survive those four years, what’s next? This role is special because my boss knows me from a prior company and that’s why he values my contributions and position. My actual communications skills are not vastly improving…. I’m not learning skills that are applicable to other workplaces… which is fine for now, but I don’t see where this is heading. Do I need to? I’m now 34, in a mid-level role, and to others probably look quite successful. But this type of job is not sustainable – not for the next 30 years until I retire.

So, as I embark on this pregnancy and having-kid journey, I also am trying to figure out how to set the foundation for a longer-term career change. I’m committed to this role for the next four years, and if I play my cards right this should give me time to build out my next life. The only question is – what is it?

My downsized goals: chasing the miniature American Dream

The baby (singular or plural) may – or may not – happen. But, I’m turning 34 NEXT FUCKING WEEK and I feel like I need to have some new goals in my life. Some new goals that involve not living like a just-graduated-from-college person for the rest of my life.

I was absolutely fine living my 20s in shared living situations to save money, and my early 30s were completely acceptable sharing a 1 bedroom apartment with my husband. But – as I’ve taken home $160k+ per year, minus taxes, for the last 3 years – I wonder what on earth am I doing this for if I can’t have some semblance of the adult life I want.

All the east coast dreams of the grande house with the huge backyard are gone. I’ve downsized my objectives – but I still have them. I’d like to own a house on not-the-crappiest street. I’d like to be able to take time off in the future (in health or in sickness) and not worrying about running out of money. I’ve made progress, but I still have a long way to go.

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The plan (with flat stocks):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $600k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $685k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $770k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $885k

OR

The plan (with ~5% growth):

2017 – close the year with ~$525k networth
2018 – savings = $45k investments + $30k after-tax bonus = $625k
2019 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $740k
2020 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $862k
2021 – savings = $45k investments + $40k after-tax bonus = $990k

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This all assumes I can perform well in my current job for the next four years, age 34-38, and not take significant time off, all while (hopefully) having two children.

My goal has always been to have $500k in the bank before having children. I have obtained that goal. My next goal is to have $1M in the bank before 40. Ideally well before 40. I’d like $1M in the back as my emergency fund and retirement fund and the fund which I do not touch. Over this same time, my husband will be doing what he does and not investing his money because he’s very risk averse. This is fine, because he will be saving up for the down payment on our (not in this part of the country) house.

Assuming I have one child in 2018/19 (age 34-35); and one in 2020/21 (36-37); by the time I have achieved this plan, I have one child who is ~3 and one who is ~1. This will enable us to, before we have to think about putting the kids into school, move to a part of the country where housing is more affordable. My husband can continue his career as a teacher in a region it is more cost effective, and I can perhaps pursue an entirely new career – or take time to spend at home with the kids.

I realize $1M is NOT “early retirement.” This is step two in my… however many step, not very well thought out plan…

Step 1: $500k before having children (age 30-35)
Step 2: $1M before 40 / + $200k cash downpayment (husband)
Step 3: $2M before 50 / + home 33% paid off (or more)
Step 4: $3M before 60 / + home 66% paid off
Step 5: $4M before 70 / + home 100% paid off / retirement

I’m not sure if any of that makes sense. So far steps 1 was achieved (woohoo) and step 2 seems like it might be achievable, if I can hold on to this job for the full four years. I am going to hold on to it with all my might. The having kids things definitely may throw a wrench in this plan regardless, but I’m hopeful I can take minimal time off for my kids when they’re really young (and/or work remote and still do my job, which might be possible)… then, after four years, we leave. We have to leave. We will never be able to afford a house here. I don’t know why that’s so important to me – I realize homeownership is a horrible financial decision – but it is. I can’t shake it. I want to design my own bathroom and kitchen… I’d like a backyard I can sit in and enjoy the sun without feeling the prying eyes of others all over me. I want a place for my children to grow up and a home to know.

So, that’s the plan. It suddenly seems all so very short term. I feel quite old. 34 is no joke. 34 is just a few years away from 40. And 40 is no longer fake adulthood. It’s serious, full-on, you’re an adult – and you’re only going to get MORE adult until you’re PAST that… and, I’m trying not to freak out about that, because I know life is so very short, and I need to just enjoy the moments and try to achieve some semblance of both freedom and control before I’m too old to enjoy it.

 

Quick Update: Personal Finance this Fall

Wow, it’s been too long since I’ve updated this blog. I’ve been heads down focused on finding a new job and figuring out my life, all while trying not too dip too much into my savings. Fortunately, it seems all as worked out, for now.

My net worth this month hit $509k, which feels really good given my goal for the year was $500k and I haven’t had a job since June (though that doesn’t feel good.) I’m finally getting caught up on all of my money issues (hired an accountant to do our 2016 taxes so those will be turned in on time…) and mostly have old medical bills reimbursed properly after my COBRA election turned into a bit of an administrative nightmare.

This is all really good because I’m starting a new job NEXT WEEK! That’s right, I finally have a new job. I am really trying to be optimistic about this opportunity because, while it isn’t the most exciting job I’ve had, it’s one I think I might actually be able to succeed in. Without going into too many details, it’s a role still in tech, but it’s in a larger company where I’ll get to focus on what I’m good at (writing, mostly) instead of trying to do way too much and running an entire department in a smaller company. I had a few offers for the “run it all” in a small company but I turned them down because I know that’s a recipe for disaster.

While this role was a considerable pay cut in base salary from my last few positions, it more than makes up for that in potential bonus and stock. I’m pretty stoked about the RSUs, since I’ve never had them and they actually are worth something if you stay at the company for a year – versus stock options where you have the privilege of buying them for “lower than their worth” (even though you can’t sell them and they’re really worth $0) and then paying taxes on what they’re supposedly worth based on a whole lot of lies (I’m not bitter. Am I bitter? Ok, I’m bitter.) Meanwhile, RSUs are basically a promise that you’ll be given a certain number of shares if you keep your job each year, and you can immediately sell those shares for cash. Yes, the taxes on RSUs are high, but they’re worth something – and if the company performs well they can be worth a lot. I’m very fortunate that the company I’m joining has a lot of room to grow, and seems to be in a really great spot, so all signs are pointing towards this being the right move.

As I’ve been out of work for four months, I’m REALLY ready to get back into the swing of things. The forced sabbatical has been nice, but it’s time to have a day job again. Consulting didn’t work out this time around — my one client couldn’t raise money and only gave me a small project, and I’m not great at drumming up business. Maybe one day in the future I’ll have a good enough reputation to land me projects with the full time security, but for now — my main focus is figuring out how to and if I can have kids, which means I need good health insurance, a stable income, and a role that doesn’t require me to be on a plane every week. And that’s what I’ve got. Woohoo. More on all of this later… but I wanted to check in since I haven’t written anything since August!

Why there aren’t more women in tech? Why the Google Manifesto matters.

While the day-to-day subtle and less-than-subtle sexism in the tech industry is something that usually doesn’t get national press, this month a Google employee’s manifesto — “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” —  about the supposed biological differences between men and women — had everyone talking about Silicon Valley and gender bias. Even Fox News got in on the action, will all the hubbub making manifesto author James Damore an insta-star of conservatives everywhere.

If you’ve been living under a rock, or think that companies don’t care about corporate liability after an employee writes a literal manifesto about why men are better than woman at certain things, you may not know that (or understand why) Damore was fired from Google. He was. And he isn’t going down without a fight… Continue reading

Still unemployed… Still not sure WTF to do with my life.

The further away from my last day of work I get, the easier it is to romanticize the role in it’s high-paid, occasional feeling of mass victory glory. But then I remember just how miserable the job – the career – made me, and I’m desperate not to go back to it, despite the lure of a substantial amount of recruiters knocking on my doorstep, basically asking me to let history repeat itself yet again.

As I take this pause in my career to dissect what I like and dislike about my prior roles, I know that I find it very difficult to put 100% daily into a job where the majority of my waking hours are dedicated to trying to get people to buy software for their businesses that helps those businesses run more efficiently. I enjoy this in spurts — I do believe in efficiency and find it rewarding to help people stuck in old ways break free of traditional processes and technologies and move to better ways of doing things, especially if these better ways impact lots of people. It’s just at the end of the day (or even about 2 minutes after I wake up) I feel this heaviness of dread — knowing that there is so much more to be done to make the world better than improving business processes. Continue reading

Next Steps in This Unemployed Life + Starting on Zoloft

SSRIs are supposed to take many weeks to work, but I swear this very small dose is having more than a placebo effect on me. It’s helpful at the moment, given I was seriously depressed and now it’s like that spot of my brain is muted. It’s like it’s still there but I can’t access it… I’m not exactly happy either, but the deep sadness where I sit and cry all the tears out of my head also is gone. I guess I feel a bit numb emotionally. I don’t know if that’s a good thing long term, but short term a vacation from my emotions helps me focus on more rationally evaluating all the variables of my situation and hopefully makings some decisions that will positively impact the rest of my life.

I’ve found that obtaining interviews for specific types of roles is relatively easy, while getting considered for the roles I actually want is impossible. Funny enough the “easy” interviews are more senior roles. I don’t end up getting them, but I do get calls quickly as my experience seems relevant. I’m disappointed that all of the jobs I’m remotely qualified for are within the same 3 block radius in the city, which is that lovely 1.5-2 hr one-way commute from my home. I think that’s a bad idea – but I’m not sure long-term what else to do. Hubby and I discussed moving, but we really like our apartment, we like that it’s $2350/month with a washer+dryer and big living room and large bedroom and that it’s within walking distance from every major supermarket one would ever want to shop at. If we move to the city, to get anything remotely comparable it would be $3500, at least. We could move CLOSER to the city but that might put us further from public transportation, making the commute time about the same even though we’re closer..

I know that obtaining a job close to home is not the solution to all of my work problems. I HAD a job that was 20 minutes from my house and that didn’t go over well. I was still depressed, wasn’t confident in my responsibilities there, and would show up late because I dreaded going into the office. And, I’ve had good weeks in jobs that are far from my house, because I’m excited about the work and feel like I can do the job justice. So, location isn’t everything.

Still, given that I really want to focus the next year on having my first child — and the reality that I have to go to lots of doctor’s appointments for infertility treatment – I need to think about logistics. Right now my infertility clinic is actually IN the city — I’m planning to switch to one closer to my apartment (on their waiting list for early 2017) — I know I’m horrible at being consistent about anything but if I want kids (and I do want kids) I HAVE to focus on the infertility treatments, eating healthy, exercising, losing weight — this takes a lot of time and energy (and money), so thinking about having a 3-4 hour commute 5 days a week AND doing that AND knowing myself is something that doesn’t add up.

Are there jobs by my apartment? Well, there are large companies that aren’t far away. But they never call when I submit apps to them. They know better. They are looking for people who were really good at school – who are able to focus and study and work hard and who are ok doing the same thing over and over again even if the result of that work will never see the light of day. I do like small companies because I know the work I’m doing will be used and it will have an impact – and I like that no two days are the same. But I’d like to be able to work at a larger company — somehow. It would be good for my and my family’s future. And the commute situation. And small companies have PLENTY of cons/issues too.

I’m even struggling with my small freelance project at the moment. It’s a messaging exercise for a very young company. It’s not that it’s hard for me — I just find that either I’m in a state of mind where the creative juices are flowing and I can do work really fast (usually, unfortunately, at 3am) or I just can’t do work. It’s not like I’m writing the next great American novel, I still need to channel a certain kind of creativity that comes and goes to do the work. When I find it, I can be VERY productive. My clients seem happy with the work thus far – but I have to turn around the next rev of the assignment today and I’m currently blanking. I’m writing this blog hoping to quite my mind and get the writing juices flowing. Hoping it will help.

But this issue is a microcosm of what happens in a full-time job. At least with this project I am able to spend a huge chunk of time sitting at a cafe, writing a blog post to clear my mind, feeling the warm breezes and sun on my back. In a full-time job, you don’t have hours upon hours to take mental breaks… nor are you able to do your work at 3am and wake up at 9-10am.

All of this leads me to the very serious question of – why the fuck do I want to have kids? It may be biological, or that i’ve been conditioned to think kids are the most important thing in life. I don’t know. I know that if I don’t have kids, I’ll regret it. I also know all signs point to me being the type of person who should NOT have children. Kids aren’t a job you can quit or get fired from. If I can’t handle maintaining a job, eating healthy and exercising without any other responsibilities, how on earth can I add to that being a mother?

On the other hand, I’ve saved $500,000, and I am in a pretty good place in terms of being mentally grown up. In the world, lots of women become mothers when they are in significant debt — or when they’re still basically kids themselves. There’s nothing wrong with any of that either (if it works for them and it’s what they want), but there are some good things I have going for me on this journey to parenthood. And I have a husband who will be a great father and who loves children and who will gladly take over the childcare when I need a break, especially when the kids are young.

I don’t see us being able to stay in this area and have a family… maybe for a few years, but not long term. Right now, even if I manage to get pregnant by early 2017, I won’t have a child until end of 2017, a year from now. Then – while it’s not ideal – we can definitely stay in our 1 bedroom apartment for 1-2 years with one child. So – that’s at least 2-3 years when we can stay where we are. Maybe that’s 2-3 years of staying where we are and commuting 3 hours a day while having young kids — not sure how that works, but people do it. So maybe I have to do it. Maybe the missing ingredient has been SSRIs. Maybe this medication will do wonders and I’ll be able to wake up on time and calm down and get my work done and have a child and be a good mom. Hey, it’s wishful thinking, but perhaps it’s possible?

I do know I’m exhausted right now. I haven’t really adjusted back to the time zone after my trip and I’m not doing the best job of going to sleep at night or waking up in the morning. I can’t imagine being at an office right now! I am fine doing work, but I’m a hot mess.

Speaking of… I’m headed home to take a quick nap and hopefully find some energy to get this project done in the afternoon. I definitely wouldn’t be able to do that if I had a full time job.

Update on Life after hitting $500k and losing my job

My current psychologist is – interesting. She is unlike any psychologist I’ve had in the past and at this point I’m seeing her because she’s actually covered by my insurance at $25 a session and that’s not much more than the cost of a movie for pure entertainment value. I’ve only gone to three sessions with her thus far, but she is, in a very odd way, helping me work through my issues.

We are culturally very different – she’s an Indian who was a trained engineer, so she just approaches life quite differently. For instance, today when I shared that I was disciplined with a belt in my childhood, she mentioned that it’s normal for boys to be hit with a belt and not girls, and I stared at her and explained that I think that must be a cultural norm for Indians but not in the U.S…

Anyway, she has a very strange way of telling me how strong I am whenever I provide information about doing something in my life that isn’t wallowing in depression, and she always has her head slightly cocked to the side with a slight crazed gaze in her eyes, just a bit too intense in a room with high ceilings, bright white walls and two chairs. But I’m rolling with it… because I need help. Because I’m depressed and anxious and really unsure how to make life work.

I did have a pretty big breakthrough today – but she didn’t catch it or care. I said I had a drinking problem from 2001 to 2014. This is a pretty big deal as while I’ve admitted to drinking too much at parties and such before, I never fully admitted that I had an actual PROBLEM with alcohol, and for so long. This stemmed from her asking me the standard doctor question of “how many drinks do you have per week.” I answered, in my typical I don’t know how to answer that question fashion, that it’s either 0 or — too many on one night. I haven’t gotten that drunk in a while, not head spinning pass out drunk, so when I mentioned that I occasionally have one class of whiskey at night to go to sleep she seemed concerned (despite that this is much healthier than the once a week social binges that ultimately caused my DUI) — anyway, it felt good to say that I had a problem, to admit to this, and to really feel like I’ve distanced myself from this problem despite partaking in social drinking on occasion. Maybe I’ve just grown up. A little bit.

While I’ve grown up in some aspects of my life, I haven’t in others. I’m not sure what to do about this job situation, per the usual, but now that I’m back from my trip and looking at my bank account, I am tempted to jump into something with a consistent paycheck. I have one freelance project that may turn into something ongoing, but that’s still not enough to cover the cost of life – rent, food, health insurance, etc,  and having a child. There are recruiters reaching out to me about jobs in a position I’m qualified for on paper but don’t want to fill, and there are jobs I apply to that I don’t hear back from because I’m not qualified for them at all, at least on paper. It’s frustrating.

The best scenario would be that I build my freelance business quickly enough that it makes sense to be self employed for good, or at least long enough to gain experience in the areas where I actually want a full time job. But it’s also hard to turn down offers that pay $150k-$200k when I’m currently making $20k on unemployment and less than that if I start consulting, lose unemployment benefits, and it doesn’t work out. I can sell stock if needed, but I really don’t want to dig into my net worth if I don’t have to. I’m not in a financial crisis or anything, but the goal is to not cause one later in life when I’ve worked so hard to build a cushion.

I’m figuring I’ll have a full time job by October OR I’ll have 2-3 ongoing freelance clients that are happy with my work. Otherwise, I’m going to be in trouble. People tell me that I should just enjoy my time off but I have a hard time doing that.

Island Hopping in the Seto Sea and Trying to Find Peace

I haven’t traveled alone a lot thus far in my life. After my trip with a friend to Thailand half-a-decade ago I stayed on for a few more days, got food poisoning in Bangkok the morning of my flight to Singapore, managed to make it to my flight and wander around Singapore solo for a few days before traveling back to the States. That was a lonely excursion and it was only a few days solo, but I did enjoy seeing Singapore and it was easy-ish since everyone spoke English.

Japan has been different because English is definitely not common here. I knew Japanese would be the primary language, obviously, but I thought there’d be more English speakers. It’s actually quite strange how the country seems to be obsessed with American / English-speaking culture, yet few can speak the language. Case in point, in most hotels and spas, there is English jazz music playing… but no one understands what the singers are saying. Even many shops have their signs written in English… one wonders if the people who work in the shop have any idea what the sign says…

The good thing about Japan is that the train system is so easy to navigate. I heard this from friends who have been in the past but I didn’t really believe them. Japan has a crazy amount of train lines and for international visitors you can get a 7, 14 or 21 day “all you can eat” pass which (in my 14 day version) I’ve certainly been putting to good use. The pass doesn’t cover all the trains, but an app makes it easy to figure out which trains can be ridden between one destination and the next. There are local trains – which are subway style – and then there are long-distance trains which range from fast to super duper fast (the super duper duper fast trains are not included in the pass.) The train I’m on right now is going 170 MPH…

Most people on their first trip to Japan do the Tokyo-Kyoto loop, some adding in Hiroshima (which is south of Kyoto). My trip has been Tokyo-Kyoto/Osaka-Hiroshima-Kyoto-Naoshima-Hakone (extra fee)-???-Tokyo. I considered heading down to the south island to visit Nagasaki and get out of the normal tourist loop, but am glad I didn’t because they’re having crazy rains down there right now and bad flooding… so this worked out much better.

I’m spending too much on this trip– I don’t even want to add it up at this point — but I also acknowledge that once I have kids (and, hopefully, another full-time job) I won’t be able to travel like this. Even with PTO, I would never relax and enjoy traveling if I had a job to go back to. It’s unfortunate but true – I can’t NOT think about my job. So – traveling when I don’t have a job is something I can’t take for granted at all, even if it sucks that I have to pay for health insurance and such being gainfully unemployed.

The trip was extra expensive because I – probably in bad judgement – decided to offer my sister a free trip to Japan as a belated college graduation gift (I had promised her I’d take her to hawaii if she graduated college, which then turned into Japan somehow). The trip in total is probably about $7000-$8000 not including “free” flights w/ points (I’ll do a final tally once it’s over)… with my husband’s portion around $2000 so I’ve spend $5k-ish total on the trip. Was it worth it? (Is it?)  Yes, definitely. There are a few over-spends where I see I could have saved cash but overall, for 24-day trip it’s not so bad. Without stays at a few fancy traditional-style inns (Ryokans) and spurges on dining (A5 Wagyu was worth it) I could have cut out $2k probably, but – YOLO. Right? I said it. YOLO.

Hubby and I are still planning on going on our ACTUAL honeymoon in September… to New Zealand… and I’m itching to also explore Australia while we’re in the down under parts… but I’m not sure I want to do another 3+ week trip. Husband definitely doesn’t, he maxes out his travel acceptance at two weeks… and since it’s our honeymoon, I think it would be nice for us to fly there and come back together. Bummed we can’t stop in Fiji but Zika is still prevalent there and on the off chance that I can actually get pregnant I shouldn’t be getting myself Zika (Mosquitos love me so I doubt there would be any way to avoid them.) Supposedly there is no Zika in Japan… if there is, well, my bumpy, itchy legs are not a good sign.

I’m glad I’m getting to travel extensively now, it is helping me scratch that itch so I don’t feel like I’m locked up and away at work for the entirety of my healthy years. Even now at 33 and out of shape I’ve definitely noticed my body does not travel as well as it used to — my feet have taken a beating unfortunately. We had been walking about a half marathon a day for the first two weeks of our trip (from sitting on my ass all day) so I pretty much f’d up my feet badly. The last few days traveling solo I’ve been able to listen to my body a bit more… when I need a break, I take a break. When I need to take a bus, I take a bus. When I need to stay at my hotel for the night because I can’t move, I do it. I’m feeling much better.

Part of this trip, I hoped, was to lose some weight. I am really ashamed that I managed to gain back all the weight I lost and then some. I was at 182 at my highest and then got down to 170 fairly easily, but the 30 pounds I lost took a lot of dedication and hard work over six months… then I got depressed, started binging like crazy and was up to 184, unsure of how I went from 140 to 150 to 165 to 170 to 184… but I did, and I felt awful. With this trip only being 3 weeks, I realistically can only lose 6-9 pounds at most. I don’t think I’ve lost much, but I’ll be quite happy if I get back to the states and I’m under 170 (I was about 175 when I left on my trip.) If I can get to ~169 from Japan, I have the next month including a weightloss bootcamp I’m going to for a week, where I want to lose another 8lbs, getting me closer to 160 by mid August. I’d love to be back at 150 for my honeymoon (I was briefly at 140 but my wedding weight was 150 and I think that was a good place to be) … so I’m targeting 150-160 for mid September. Going to probably have to go Keto for Aug/Sept to make that happen… but it will be worth it. And maybe, with doing that, I can actually get pregnant… which will save a good $50,000+ in IVF fees when that probably won’t work anyway.

With so much going on, it’s good to be alone for a bit and slow down. It would probably be helpful to unplug but for better or worse this country has really good wifi and I have a rental device that has me more connected than I’d be back in the states. I’ve tried to put my phone down for a bit… and take it all in. I love seeing new landscapes and architecture, getting lost down random alleyways (as long as I feel safe, which I always do in Japan), and just embrace being a nobody in this world. Yes, I know a few random people who live in Japan but odds of running into them are quite slim. I’m anonymous here even though everyone sees me, as no one looks at me, no one notices, no one cares. And in forever terms that would be awful but for a week or two it’s kind of nice. I don’t have to worry about what I look like (as long as I’m culturally presentable) — if my hair is frizzy or my stomach is bulging out because I’m not wearing Spanx… no one cares. Despite my mother complaining that my digitally-shared photos don’t include enough Japanese people in the background for her friends to believe I’m in Japan when she reshapes the pics (face palm), I have no pressures here, no annoying parental voice that linger in my head despite my long departed youth, no worries other than getting to my hotels on time, not getting my things stolen, and not running out of cash.

I know the real world will be back soon enough… and I HAVE to figure out a model of real world that works for me in perpetuity. It’s becoming more and more apparent that a career change is a necessity. It’s still hard to make the decision to leave a career that pays $150k-$250k annually for a job that may, especially to start, pay $60k-$100k and only see $150k in many, many years, if ever. But, I really want to have a family, I want to have time with my family, I want to be able to travel but I don’t need to travel luxuriously, and I’m almost ok with not being able to afford property and just to be a renter for the rest of my life. I’m trying so hard to take it one day at a time, and failing frequently, but getting closer to finding some sort calm admits the whirling storm of my ever-anxious mind.

Rough Night, Writing to Keep the Tears Away

Why I put myself in these situations, I’ll never know. I thought a trip abroad with a good week and a few days on my own post travel with my husband and sister would be just what I needed… to relax a bit… stop thinking about work… stop thinking about how much of a failure I am and just be present in the moment.

Instead, this trip just reminds me how much of a failure I am. I haven’t died yet, so there’s that, but I feel so incredibly alone here. I know I have just 5 more days before I return home and they’ll go by and the trip will be over, but I want to figure out how to enjoy this. It’s proved challenging indeed. I struggled with my travel plans today… making it to an island on time in the morning but then not being able to ride the electric bike safely so instead taking a bus to an overpriced art exhibit that I didn’t know how to appreciate properly and getting over-heated on a long walk to my hostel that I stupidly booked without a clear plan for how to get to it (it WAS walkable, but not so much with my backpack in 90 degree heat) — I did it, but was feeling lightheaded the last 10 minutes of the walk and thought I might pass out and no one would find me.

I made it to the hostel… then went for a walk around the area which is quite remote and there was nothing to do. I saw a fairly nice view, then had a panic attack because there was an earthquake in the Philippines and I worried it would trigger a tsunami (spoiler alert: it didn’t.) I walked back to the hostel a different route and saw some more of the island but couldn’t enjoy it because I was worried I was getting myself lost. I wasn’t. I got back to the hostel… back to my room with six beds for five other woman/girls that’s completely empty right now (which I don’t mind that much) and into my bed where earlier I saw a centipede crawling next to me that may be venomous.

But the trip itself isn’t really that bad… it’s nice to see new places… to experience new things… and so far nothing major has gone wrong except my credit card being stolen and having to put a stop on some very strange expenses. What’s worse is knowing that no matter how long I put getting back to the real world, it’s still there, waiting for me, laughing at me, ready to slam into me like a wall of bricks. My job prospects are not looking that great… I’m rather unemployable right now and I don’t know where to start. I have no references from former employers, I have no experience outside of experience in what I’m not actually good at, and I’m  getting myself all sorts of depressed reading job ad after job ad that I know I can’t even get an interview for — the jobs I have gotten offers for in the past were all off somehow… they were clearly roles that no one else half way decent wanted… the roles themselves were impossible to succeed in, which is why I’m the perfect person to take them and try really hard to do amazing things which works for a while until I burn out and can’t maintain the level of work and then fail. Because I don’t know how to manage or delegate or organize or do anything that is required of anyone in a job. Even if I can get it together and do these things, who will say I can in a reference call?

I probably shouldn’t think about the job thing until October… with the exception of applying for some “stretch” jobs and hope that they’ll call me knowing they won’t. I can take three months to not worry about this… before worrying about it a lot. It’s hard to not think about it, though, knowing that I’m screwed. I mean, I can live off savings for a while (esp if I stop spending at my current “travel and splurge as if I’m getting a job in October” rate) but… this can’t last forever. I feel so ridiculously depressed and hopeless… I wonder why I even bother trying at this point.

Hello World. Yes, I’m Alive. And I’m in Japan.

Usually when I lose my job I fester in self pity and despair. Not this time world. I’ve been traveling in Japan for the past two weeks and have another week-or-so to go.

The first bit was lovely and stressful with my husband and sister traveling with me through Tokyo and Kyoto (and I planned the whole trip, so it was like work even though also fun.) Now, I’m traveling for a while on my own — which honestly I don’t like that much but
I feel it’s good for me to get away from reality for a while and experience new cultures…

I spent way too much on the first chunk of the trip, but now am doing about $50-$70 a day, which isn’t so bad… hostels get old after a while but they do make it possible to extend travel for ultra cheap, even in high-cost-of-living areas. I really needed this time alone on my own at the moment to regroup and focus on what matters in life, versus sitting in my room all day, staring at the wall and doing nothing outside of applying to jobs and sinking further into depression.

I’ve been out of work now for less than three weeks and I already miss it. I feel like one big solution to my failure to be a good employee is how I am obsessed with working. Even now that I HAVE NO JOB and don’t have to work, I crave having work. It gives me purpose and I need purpose when life is all so chaotic and impossible to control. I like working, only because I can succeed at something, even if for a short while, and even if that victory doesn’t last.

I really want to find a job that I can maintain… I’m looking for something lower level… I think I want full-time as the idea of freelancing sounds good until it’s reality and one never gets any time off and has to constantly pitch herself to obtain gigs and beg people to pay on time which requires a whole host of organization skills I do not have and do not expect to acquire anytime soon. I’d rather find a lower-paying job where I can work for a company that I believe in (with a “for good” mission) and where I can be good at my job. I still am not sure if it makes sense to drop from $200k-ish in salary to $100k in salary but at this point I have $0k in salary so really it’s not much of a drop, now is it?

I plan to start applying for jobs slowly this summer and more aggressively in October after my very belated honeymoon trip (separate form this Japan trip) … I think by then I’ll be more than ready to get back into the swing of life-slavery and have kicked the travel bug which is that buzzing noise always saying “you make good money but don’t have time to travel before you have kids which is the only time you’ll have to travel until you’re old and retired and can’t walk.” So, I’ve checked off much of Japan and I’ll hit New Zealand and possibly Australia in early fall… I have many other places on my list but for now I’m reminded how wonderful yet how DRAINING traveling is and how two weeks of travel really is ENOUGH unless you want to push yourself beyond your comfort zone (or you just love travel in a way I love my bed at home and cuddling in my husband’s arms.)

Grass is always greener.

I’m tempted to start applying to a zillion jobs now but it doesn’t make sense… I need to figure out what I want first. And I have a few things coming up and the trip in September so – if I can play my cards right I’ll have a job offer by mid September then go on my trip and come back to employment. That would be perfect. Well, I still need to figure out the whole baby-making thing since, surprise, surprise, my first foray into infertility treatments didn’t work (and I’m $2000 in the hole so far form them, yippee.) I probably should try REALLY hard to get a job at a company that covers infertility treatments because even with a $100k job that will be worth a lot for a year or two. If only one of those fancy big companies would hire me… but they won’t… because the only companies who will hire me want someone who will do 290852093582095820958230958 jobs for the price and headcount of one, i.e. small companies who want one person to do the job that would be done by a team at a larger company. And, so, that’s probably where I’ll end up again… but I’m going to try to get out of this vicious cycle and focus on having kids, if possible.