Reflecting on the path I've taken

Usually I write about fashion or diabetes. Once in a awhile I throw a curve ball at you wonderful readers, which is what I'm going to do today. I've been on quite the job hunt searching for my great opportunity. Completing online application forms over and over will make you reflect on where your career has been...and where you want it to head. 

This morning as I prepared to spend the day being productive away from home at my favorite cafe, I began to reflect on the path my career has taken. My career started off great by conquering graduate school and earning my masters degree. Following graduation, I became involved with a man and thought I was in love and focused my job search on only the city where he was. Dude, don't give me the side eye. I was a young girl. I honestly did not know better. I didn't want to settle for just any job. I was adamant on securing a job in public relations but the pressure and disappointment from family and the boyfriend resulted in me taking a job that turned out to be great experience but was very poorly paid. I'm not sure I was making minimum wage if you divided my salary by the hours I was working. With that said, I did great things and learned lots. The boyfriend moved away, I didn't follow and we broke up. 

Soon, I found myself being recruited to an agency in Chicago. See kids, dreams do come true! I was moving to Chicago (okay, okay, the suburbs but still...) and I was joining a marketing communications agency. Loved my client, my coworkers and just truly everything. It was hard work and I loved that. Everyone was driven, ambitious and focused. I was among my people. And then the recession hit. I was one of about 30 people laid off. Prior to layoffs, there were about 100 people working there. Yep, that stunk and yet I still adore the agency and the people affiliated with it. I was driven to find a new job in the Chicago metro. I was hustling -- applying for anything and everything as well as networking. Nothing. Confidence was sinking faster than the titanic. During this time, I spoke with several recruiters and HR professionals. Turns out I was competing with SAE and AS people for AC and AAE positions. My superiors were willing to take pay cuts to stay employed and keep their benefits. I can't blame them. The recession hit the industry hard. 

I was able to secure some freelance gigs but nothing permanent until later when I joined another agency in a neighboring state. I think this is when my career took a wrong turn. I accepted the job without negotiating for better pay. I should have been aware it was maybe not the best fit as their job posting was for a different metro in the state, I didn't interview with anyone who would be on my team (awkward!) and after starting 90 percent of what I heard throughout the day was about the person I had replaced. Again...awkward. I question some of the way the agency ran itself however I'm grateful for the experience. Why? Because I made the most amazing friends while living in that city even though I was only there for exactly 365 days. 

When I left that job, I started just throwing my resume into the wind to see where it would stick. I felt broken. Confidence gone. Wasn't sure anyone would want me. Felt really great about taking my most recent job. I knew I'd rock it. Was not so sure about the metro it was located in but, hey, I'm not a newbie when it comes to moving. So, I packed up and hauled myself to a new metro and new state. The job was good but I quickly outgrew it, was never challenged and became quite frustrated -- especially when presenting ideas of things we could do and being told no because it would be too much work. It also became clear after three years with no raise, no performance review or promotion there would never be any growth with this position. Eventually, we decided to amicably part ways (Oh, you didn't know that? Ooops). I was able to achieve some great things while in the position, things I'm quite proud of and met some wonderful people. But now I am back to job hunting. 

And each time I complete an online form, my confidence quickly deflates like a balloon. I wonder if I'm carrying around bad job karma. The most recent job was a job again I had settled for. I didn't think long term with it. Before parting ways, I wish I had secured a new job but alas where is the fun in that? 

As I reflect on where my career currently is, I see where it has taken wrong turns and where I've tried to get it back to the path I want it to be on. Although I was not prepared to be without a job, I really wonder if God had his hand in this as a way to help me get everything back on track. To live in a city (there are two cities that have my heart) where I can see myself settling down in and growing old; to find the right career path...get back into the agency world; to chase after my dreams -- to not settle because of a guy or because of the pressure from friends, family or even myself. 

Maybe it is all an act of God. Or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel a little bit better about how life is. Either way, I know everything will turn out good if for no other reason than because I've learned from where I've been on this path. 


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