Refreshed & Ready + What's REALLY Been Going On

May 25, 2016

Since starting this blog in 2011, this is the longest hiatus to date that I'm breaking. I am amazed that I have gone nearly seven months without posting or interacting in this space in sort of way. I can't say I'm proud, but I can say this unintended break was necessary.

Last fall/winter when I stopped blogging, I was going through mountains of stress. I was settled into a "good job with a flexible schedule" - which sounded wonderful coming out of my mouth upon explaining to people what I was up to post-grad, but the reality was less so. I liked my coworkers and the amount of control I had in my work. The startup culture I was in was seriously demanding, but also amazing and rewarding. However, I often found myself bored on a day-to-day basis and worst of all, I couldn't see any future in my job. I could see no opportunities for company advancement, pay raises, or benefits in the near future. This wasn't because I was a subpar employee, but mostly because the company was still very much in its early phases and was simply unable to accommodate me and my immediate goals.

So what were my immediate goals, you may ask?

My boyfriend and I had been in our budget-friendly (read: cheap) apartment for five or six months at that point and were already feeling the distinct desire to relocate (read: get the hell out of there as fast as possible). We had a good amount of money saved, but not enough to move into a house. When I say this, I mean we didn't have enough to move into a house and meet our financial stability goals. We easily could've put zero down (common when you live somewhere that qualifies as being "rural") and took out a thirty year mortgage, but we decided that way of buying a home was not right for us. We wanted to feel secure in our investment with at least 20%, if not more, down off the bat and a condensed mortgage that we could pay off in less than ten years. That my friends, is a really tall order. Especially when I was the only one working a "traditional" job at the time. Travis, my boyfriend, was in his last semester of college and helping save $ by selling things online in his spare time. In addition to my day job, I was also picking up extra design and freelance work any time I could.

Also worth noting, November was the month my first student loans payments were due. I hustled hard from September until the first payment date to save up every last bit of cash I could in order to make a sizable payment upfront. This was solely to pay off the impending interest that was about to drop right on top of my neatly accumulated debt from the past four years of educational pursuits. This pressure to start paying off student loans and start saving for a house left me ridiculously burnt out, ridiculously quick.

Needless to say September, October, November, and December were a hectic four months of feeling overworked, unproductive, uninspired, broke, and stuck simultaneously.

I searched for over a month for a new job during this time period, sending out my resume and portfolio many times a week and often hearing no response. When I did hear a response it was usually, "What bad timing! We just filled X position!" and it made me feel like my degree was failing me. I applied for positions both above and below my qualifications - even conceding that I may have to start working irregular hours or commute a long distance since my only lead for a long time was a job arranging the layout of a local newspaper from noon to eight at night.

Finally, I scored an interview with a local boutique through a random Craigslist ad for a designer/developer position. I wasn't sure how legitimate the position was considering I was scouring Craigslist as a last ditch effort. Plus, I wasn't sure they'd reach out considering I was more designer than developer. Luckily, they quickly responded to my job inquiry and I was set interview that Friday. I felt grateful that there was finally a break in the case and that this job included things like a salary wage, vacation time, IRA plans, and medical benefits - literal music to my ears. The interview went well, I thought.

On the way home I felt the strongest urge ever to pray (ugh, yes I'm going to be one of those people for a hot second). I'm not very "religious," but do believe in spirituality and a higher being. I believe in personal relationships with God. I try to pray at night to reinforce my gratefulness and because it brings me peace. However, I've never so strongly had the urge to pray out loud like that ever in my life. I turned the radio down and started talking - desperately pleading even - to God about how I needed this job...about how right it felt and about the opportunities it would afford for me and Travis. I went on just talking and saying over and over, "I know you have perfect timing, but please just give me this job." It finally felt like my own plan for my life was coinciding with God's plan. Something about that job felt right to me on an essential level.

Monday afternoon I had a job offer in my inbox and my heart swelled. I literally jumped out of my chair and could have cried from the excitement of it all. Things were going to look up! I put in my two weeks notice at the start-up job, which gutted me. I felt so guilty for leaving the people who had given me my first full-time job out of college, believed and spoke so highly of me, and who I felt gave me a lot of trust and opportunity within their company. I felt like the company was on the brink of total success or total flop, and it made me teary to think of leaving right before seeing this thing I had building for nearly a year go into its final act without me. I also didn't want the owners to think I was leaving the company because I didn't "believe in it." I wrestled with so much guilt for those two weeks and it was undeniably awkward to work there after giving notice because of that guilt on my end. The owners took it about as well as possible and did everything to still make me feel comfortable, but it was the inner-struggle that was hardest. I seriously am thinking writing about this experience a little more in depth is in the near future.

The holidays came and went, me sniffling through them. I had caught a horrible cold I couldn't shake probably as a result of high stress, a horrible sleep schedule and too much guilt. I recovered just in time to start my new job after the first of the year. It was a tough transition at first to phase out of flexible start-up life and back into corporate culture. 

Ultimately though, I feel myself thriving in my new job and am happier. Travis even tenderly noted, "You don't cry on Sundays anymore." To which I replied, "What do you mean?" since that statement sounded very dramatic. He then went on to explain that nearly every Sunday before the new job that I'd cry for a few minutes about how much I hated that the weekend was ending and that Monday seemed unfathomable. It didn't, in the moment, occur to me then that being THAT upset over Monday wasn't normal. I didn't realize my Sunday Scaries were directly related to a much ignored inner unhappiness I felt about going to a job I didn't connect with each week.

So yes, I've been at my new job for nearly five whole months, going on six and feel perfectly in place. There are times of both boredom and stress at this job, of course. No job is ever perfect, but I do feel much happier and more content. Life is settling and opening up all at once. We're still saving to get out of our "budget-friendly" apartment and we've come a really long way in saving since last fall/winter. Now we are waiting for God's timing to match up to our own again, and present us with the right house at the right time. We're in no rush and have plenty of time to take the next step of life slowly and with intention. Plus, I'm trying to enjoy the perks of apartment living for a little longer (our great location, the trail that runs beside it, the ability to cook dinner and watch our living room TV simultaneously since they occupy the same space and the fact that we have no grass to mow on a hot day).

Also, we've been budgeting our lives pretty seriously (It literally PAYS to have Accountant for a significant other!) and I'm considering writing several posts on ways we save cash and allocate funds. Would this be something y'all may be interested in reading? I know I've been looking for practical and friendly blog resources during our own financial journey (And Then We Saved has become a pretty great one). Let me know!

Now, that you're all up to speed, I'd love to take a moment just to talk about this space and what I envision for it. I envision this to be a space much like it was before, just better - one where I tell stories, share tips, lists, goals, and reviews. I hope it's a place I can share my work and my projects. I envision it to be a place that's helpful to you - but doesn't necessarily have an "agenda" with every post. However, I do promise to try and up my offerings with each post by providing better quality content. I'd love to start adding videos to posts, downloadables and resources where possible. I can't wait for that!

Plus, if you haven't noticed by now, this blog space got a bit of a makeover (with more minor tweaks coming I'm sure)! I feel all refreshed and ready to take on new posts. I feel my enthusiasm for this space coming back tenfold and I'm so excited to communicate with you all again...if there's any of you left that is.

If you made it this far you deserve an award and a big hug. Taking a seven month break from blogging certainly wasn't the plan, but it was the necessary time and space I needed. Now, I feel better than ever and am happy to say I'll see you with a brand new post tomorrow!

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