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Oops, I Did It Again.

When it comes to jobs of my past, I don’t exactly have a stellar track record.

I started off on the straight-and-narrow, at age 11, babysitting for my mom’s friends and neighbors. Ever the professional, I received my babysitting certification from the Red Cross. I knew how to perform CPR. I knew how to bandage abrasions. I knew how to stick my fingers into a kid’s throat to remove a blockage. Basically, I could tell parents, Hey. Nothing bad should happen to your kids under my care, but by golly if they choke or bleed or their hearts stop beating for any reason — any reason at all — I should, theoretically, be able to save them.

Comforting, no?

I’d pack along my little babysitting kit, complete with crafts and games and things kids liked to do 20 years ago that didn’t involve batteries or electricity or controllers or computer-mimicked hand motions, and I quickly became the IT babysitter for the ‘hood. Kids adored me, believe it or not, and thanks to the under-the-table payment nature of the gig, I was quickly able to save a pretty impressive amount of money by the time I was 15.

Then, through some unfortunate standard of life progression set by our peers, I decided it was time to get a “real” job.  I don’t know why, since in retrospect, babysitting was pretty much the best gig ever. The kids would go to bed at 8 and I had the whole night to watch Cocktail and gobble snacks provided by generous parents. Plus, it kept me out of trouble.

Regardless, I moved on to burger flipping at A&W Rootbeer, then Product Replacement Plan selling at Best Buy, then table waiting at a sports bar, then tour guiding on my college campus and dish washing at the nearby coffee shop and waking up at 5:00 a.m. to sign people into the gym and wipe down mirrors and ellipticals.

Glamorous.

After quitting college and moving back to Nebraska, waited tables again. Then I took a road trip. Then I fixed and sold watches. Then I moved with Justin to Georgia and waited more tables and worked in a jewelry store and finally – finally — landed an environmental internship on the Air Force base.

In one year, I actually managed to file taxes for 7 different jobs in 3 separate states.

Turns out that’s not the best way to build your resume.

Once we moved to North Carolina, it was on to white-collar America. My first job here was for an environmental consulting company (which involved a very interesting interview), but my hour-and-a-half commute was turning me into a drooling zombie, so that only lasted 6 months.

Then, the job on Fort Bragg.

The job where I cracked.

The job that launched my Costa Rica hot sauce makin’ career and effectively redirected my entire professional course from that of an eventual suit-wearing government schmoozer to a beatnik hippie travel writer, if I could only have my way. (Minus the beatnik hippie part because I enjoy all kinds of travel. All kinds.)

After a year of absolutely nothing happening, I started hourly work at a bar just to earn some cash to feel like less of a lump, and then as a part-time real estate assistant, and this, my friends, is where you would probably still find me in another year, had I not finally realized my problem.

I wasn’t working.

I was gliding.

I wasn’t planning.

I was drifting.

They say that dreams don’t work unless you do.

Oh.

So I quit my job in order to work.

Which only partially makes me feel like a loser.

But also, now I know.

Beyond a shadow of a doubt I know that working my ass off for someone else’s success is NOT what I want for myself in this world.

I have to stop trying to find myself.

I have to create myself.

It only took me approximately 47 jobs to get here.

Back at the bottom of the ladder again, but this time, it’s my own.

And when you build your own ladder, it seems, it becomes a hell of a lot more satisfying to climb.

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Katie

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Comments

BFF
Reply

YAY for climbing your own ladder! Let me know if I can give you a boost on a rung or two! :)

Katie
Reply

You wanna just do it for me? ;)

Stephanie
Reply

Whoa! Whatcha gonna do now then?

Katie
Reply

I’d like to mostly concentrate on writing, but I’m going to do some photography as well. Mostly real estate photography for agents, but some families have asked me as well. I might see if I can do some food shots for local restaurants… Sky’s the limit! :)

Stephanie
Reply

That’s so brilliant. I’m excited to read along as you make this happen for yourself.

Katie
Reply

Thanks, Stephanie! Hopefully I can get it in gear… :)

RHome410
Reply

YAY…How presumptuous of me to say that this latest job just didn’t sound like you… I do think you can do better and I’m excited to see what you do for yourself. Nice thing about your own ladder is that you’re always at the top.

Landlord
Reply

LOVE the reply about your own ladder and always being on top!!!!! You go GIRL!!! As long as you have a roof of some type over you head, even if it is a tent, food in your belly and love… (OMG, I just realized this was part of a raffi song I used to listen to with the kids!) But seriously, I definitely believe this. Love all the ideas you have posted about and just keep saying to you and Kat, GO FOR IT!

Katie
Reply

omg RAFFI! I MISS him! Baaaaaby Beluuuuuga, oh Baaaaaby Beluuuuuga. I seriously can’t focus on any other part of your comment because the sheer mention of Raffi has made me delirious with nostalgic joy.

(And by the way, Kat is very — very — lucky to have you!) :)

Katie
Reply

Not presumptuous — astute. ;)

Melissa ~ Life on Prairie Creek
Reply

I am currently going through a similar experience. I left what in theory was a good job after they decided to offer me a “promotion” that was actually a demotion. I have spent the last 6 months trying to figure what the hell I wanted to do next. Still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up but I do know that I don’t want to work my ass off just to help some nameless executive to get ahead. So now I am doing everything I can do to work toward MY idea of the American Dream and it doesn’t involve a brand new car and giant McMansion. I have never been happier.

Katie
Reply

I love it. And I’m SO happy for you that you stuck to your guns! When I quit my “real” job 2 years ago, I got lazy and gave up. So now, I’m back where I was then! Hopefully this time I’ll have a little more gumption. ;)

Kat Richter
Reply

Amen sista! I did the baby sitting cert. course too and used to make all of my charges build forts for something to do other than watch TV. One time I even bought them plastic table clothes from the dollar store so they could *decorate* their forts with permanent markers and stickers but they told me that being outside gave them headaches… oy vey! But last year I filed returned for 5 jobs in 2 states so I certainly feel your pain. Then there was my stellar retail career in arts and crafts industry… so long story short: GOOD FOR YOU! And I’ve gotta say, there are times when I look at my life and say, “What a freaking mess!” but then I think of you and your blog and I think if she’s making it work, I can make it work too. And I’d rather be an interesting mess than a corporate drone :) So good luck with your new venture– can’t wait to here the details!

Katie
Reply

“I’ve gotta say, there are times when I look at my life and say, ‘What a freaking mess!’ but then I think of you and your blog” <– I initially stopped reading right there because I was cracking. Up. Honestly, you probably could’ve stopped right there and it would make total sense. ;) You’re right, though — all I can figure is that everything will work out in the end. Hell. Most anything would be better than coasting through only half awake, you know?

Catherine
Reply

I’m excited to see what’s next for you. I know personally how important it is to have a passion for your work and your career. I gave up a government job years ago that paid great but made me miserable. I don’t regret it. Except when rent (well mortgage, now) is due :) But that moment is fleeting. Can’t wait to hear more!

Katie
Reply

Something tells me you’re still doing pretty well for yourself. ;) And I’m so glad you seem passionate about your job now. Sure, it stresses you out sometimes, but you know you kick ass at it and you work with a good crew. It’s so cool to see how much your life has turned around over the past couple years. And yeah… government jobs are soul suckers. :)

Matthew
Reply

This is perfect timing considering I just read this while sitting in my old apartment in Los Angeles; and that almost everyone I’ve spoken to while out here has asked something along the lines of, “Have you considered moving back?” or “When are you moving back?”.

No, I’m not moving back; though I do probably consider it from time to time. Loved the work I did out here but not a big fan of the city. The little things that bother me out here…well still bother me.

But to get in sync with this actual post, one thing that would get me to consider moving back to the city of angels would be the opportunity to go into business with some other individuals and essentially go into business for ourselves. Be our own bosses where our success is directly tied to what we put into it.

Good luck. I know that being out here for the last 7 day (and 4 more to go) has certainly got me think that there absolutely need to be some (more) changes when I get back to KC.

Thanks for always being that additional little bit of inspiration.

Katie
Reply

Yeah, LA has a certain vibe that I’m not crazy about, either. Did you know there’s a pretty huge studio in Wilmington, NC where a lot of movie/TV stuff happens for the east coast? ;)

But yes. Being your own boss would be exhilarating. And scary. But exhilarating, mostly. I mean, what could possibly be more motivational to get up every morning?

Anyway. I’m glad I can help. :)

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