Since the new year is just about here, I am feeling nostalgic for a time prior to 2008. A time before so many of us lost our houses and careers, and more. I sit and wonder if many of Americans have the same longing I do. However, we just don’t talk about it. We post on social media all the exciting and fun things happening in our lives. The good news we want to share with family and friends. Is that truly the reflection of our lives, my life? Do I really want to go back to a time prior to losing everything? I know that my story can’t be that unique. It feels unique and scary, since I don’t hear much from other moms, rebuilding after 2008. Are we better as a society or are we same?
Quick run down, I had been in my career for over 15 years, making 6 figures, I worked hard, gave back, owned a home and was comfortable in the life I created, especially as a single mom. Blah ! Blah ! Blah!
It wasn’t until 2014-2015 that I realized that the troubles of 2008, was still looming in the world, and I was its next victim. The company I worked at started having financial issues, based on new government regulations. It seemed impossible for small to medium business owners to stay in business, still. Sadly , in 2015 the doors were closed after 60 years in business. Of course, I tried quickly to adjust from the life I had to the life that was coming for me and my 12-year-old.
With no savings and a job hunt that was getting me nowhere. I sold my house and got a small amount from the sale. So, I could downsize quickly and keep looking for work, any work.
We went from bad to worse. Selling off everything I could. Applying for government assistance so that my daughter and I could make it through. This “survival mode” of rinse and repeat each week, making min. wage was nowhere near enough to keep us feed. Since I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, I was getting passed over in every job possible. Family? Could family help? Well you see, we were all employed at the same company. So, that was a firm, no.
It wasn’t until 2017 that I got a call, from a company, that acutely interviewed the old fashion way. No bells and whistle of an online assessment or personality profile. They liked my resume and brought me in for a one on one interview. Two weeks later I was hired and started 2017 with a job, a salary that was just enough, PTO , health benefits and good people. I couldn’t be happier. It wasn’t minimum wage and it wasn’t anywhere near six figures, but it was enough. Enough to come off public assistant, enough to at least live paycheck to paycheck, enough to stop pawning or consigning the last of what we had. It was enough.
When I was in “survival mode” as I call it. I didn’t care what lessons I would learn, what paths were being paved, nor did I give one crap about what my future would be.
I just wanted to put food on the table, keep the lights on (which many times didn’t happen), and try and make it to the next day.
This year being the first year to pass that the utilities stayed on, the cells phones were only 10 days past due compared to being turned off. We left the small apartment behind to move to a slightly larger townhouse.
I now have time to reflect and try and become a better version of what I was. Have I changed and learned from this country changing so much? Have you?
I’m someone who gives back to others way more then I did when I was successful. I’ve had a couple moments where strangers paid for me while in the coffee line. When they never knew that I was gathering my last change to grab a cup coffee or the day that I had to make it to work and someone in the gas station saw me counting change (once again) and added $2 dollars in. These small acts of kindness I always remember and have since tried to pay forward.
Not valuing money when I had it, is the reason why I fell so hard from where I did. I always thought if I worked hard enough, money would be around. I could always save later. I thought money was there to use and enjoy. Yeah Negative!
I have much more appreciation for the money in my pocket and the ways I will spend it. I stop and always ask myself. Is this a want or need and can I save money by purchasing it somewhere else or finding a coupon? It does get a little tiring always trying to find the best deal. In the end its what keeps my daughter and I in the paycheck to paycheck balance. Where one slight error and the foundation will fall once again. (It’s so crazy how easy it is to over pay for most goods). O Yeah and no more impulse spending. That’s a tough one.
I haven’t yet gotten to save more than $50 since it’s my first year back in the work force. However, it’s my start, it’s taking the steps in creating that cushion, is what’s important.
Being selfish. Yup you heard that right. In all this I learned to do for me. That has ranged from getting back to my hobbies ( I never had time for when I was an executive) to creating a life with the kids that balance their needs and my own. Most Importantly, trying to figure out what will make me happy in my career. Was I really all that happy prior? What dreams do I have and what contribution do I want to make to this world?
My re-purposed life is one that I see no boundaries or have no fears. Well let’s say less fears. There is something about struggling in life, that gives you the confidence to push on. I know that money and a career does not define who I am. I know that whatever comes my way. I won’t compromise what I have learned, gained or fought for. Most importantly I learned that if I’m nostalgic for the past in a way that honors my future. I will succeed in re-purposing my life into the women and mom I was meant to me. For nothing in this world is by accident.
Gen X’er , Mom to a Gen I and Gen alpha ( 16yr and 3yrs). Butt the system, color way outside the lines, netflicks binger, OMP Blogger.