Facing Financial Fears

Facing Financial Fears

I’ve talked about my career change and the positive aspects of working with preschoolers, but I have yet to dive into the most challenging part of making the shift away from a steady 9-5 job: the financial side. Though I’ve covered plenty of personal topics on this blog, something about money feels even more personal. It seems as though money is quite a taboo topic, something we don’t often chat about with friends. We’ll talk about relationships without hesitation, but somehow bringing up money seems too difficult. There’s an element of embarrassment or fear of failure that goes along with finances that is similar, but still distinctly unique, from our feelings about dating or other common topics. I feel scared writing this blog post, but I know it’s a topic I need to talk about more. So here I go!

When I made the leap from working at a large, corporate company, to working at a small, fairly new preschool, I knew the risk I was taking financially. But I don’t think I understood, or wanted to understand, the full extent of what my choice meant. It’s no secret teachers don’t earn as much money as other fields, and I soon learned “childcare workers”, as I’m defined in the preschool world, earn even less than “school-age” educators (kindergarten through high school teachers). To put it candidly — and this makes me so scared to write for some reason, I think I’m afraid of looking weak but I’m saying it anyway— it’s nearly impossible to make a living as a preschool teacher. All of the teachers I work with have multiple side-jobs.

All that is to say, I took a huge financial risk to become a preschool teacher. For the past few months as I adjusted to my new job, I adapted an attitude of avoidance, thinking “it will all work out” in regard to my finances, without developing any sort of plan. My monthly income was cut drastically, and I was scared to confront that reality. I felt intense anxiety whenever I thought about my finances, and my coping mechanism was to just ignore, ignore, ignore. Like a monster under the bed, I was afraid of what I’d find hidden in the dark if I took the time to really examine my newfound financial situation. I knew deep down I’d need to put in a lot of work to figure out how to earn more money and put together a budget, and it made me feel exhausted thinking about it. So I chose a route of avoidance.

With the exception of a few small changes, I continued spending in the same manner I had when I was at my previous job. I saw the number in my checking account decreasing steadily, but I didn’t want to deal with what that meant. I was stubbornly hoping I could continue living the same way I had before, that nothing needed to change, and magically things would all work out. Ignore, ignore, ignore.

Finally, slowly, I came to terms with the fact that I needed to stop this denial and start being real with myself. I needed to find alternative forms of income, and I needed to cut back on my expenses each month. Nothing was going to magically work out if I didn’t put in the work myself. I knew I needed a wake-up call, so I made a to-do list and started crossing things off:

  • I found a freelance job writing resumes and cover letters for clients.
  • I started putting feelers out and working more irregular gigs like babysitting, petsitting, and social media management.
  • I took a look at exactly how much I’m earning versus how much I’m spending each month, identifying how much extra money I need per month and areas I can cut back on spending.
  • I started opening up to friends and family about this topic.

The funny thing about avoidance is we know deep down it’s not going to help. Ignoring my finances didn’t magically give me more money, or assuage my anxieties. I still had a nagging voice in my head saying “You need to confront this. You can’t keep this up forever, Shelly!” My savings were still depleting. Those months I spent not paying attention to my spending, blindly hoping I was making enough money to support for my spending habits, I was just prolonging the inevitable. I eventually had to come back to reality and put in the work to get on the right track.

I was right that the work I needed to put in would be tiring. I don’t have everything figured out yet. I still have more work to do to feel confident in my financial situation. I still have the same anxiety about money, and the same embarrassment around talking about it. I don’t know if any of that will ever change, but I know one thing has changed: I’m facing my fears rather than avoiding. I’m taking action rather than remaining passive. I’m talking about this topic rather than bottling it all up. Leaving the world of avoidance and entering the world of action may still bring its fair share of exhaustion and anxiety, but it has also made me feel empowered and given me hope. It may take a while, but I know everything will work out, because I’m finally doing the work.

Do you have fears around money? Do you feel embarrassed or scared or anxious to talk about it? Have you ever made a career change and had to reevaluate your income? Let’s talk about it! I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

A Career Change From the Heart

A Career Change From the Heart

For the first time in my career, I made a decision with my heart instead of my head. I took a chance. My intention for this year was to have more courage, and this definitely took a hell of a lot of courage. It’s not easy to make a big change, and I’m so proud of myself! I feel as if a weight has lifted off my shoulders, and I want to shout from the rooftops, “I DID IT!”

A little background

I have always been an over-thinker, preoccupied with wondering if I’m doing the “right” thing. I like to feel like I have everything figured out when in reality I rarely do (nobody does). When I was in college I spent every summer interning at a different company because I thought that was what a good college kid did. All of my internships ended up focusing on social media marketing, so I decided that was what I would do when I graduated.

I still remember my last semester of college as if it were yesterday, frantically applying and interviewing for jobs I felt completely qualified for, only to be rejected or “ghosted” by all of them. In hindsight I wonder if that was the universe trying to send me a signal. “Do you really want to go down this career path or do you just think it’s your only choice?” 

I finally got a job about five months after graduating, worked there for a little over a year, decided I hated it, moved on to another job a few months later, decided I hated it and got fired…I see now it was a vicious cycle I needed to break, but it just took me a while to come to terms with that fact. I think deep down I’ve known for years that social media and marketing wasn’t fulfilling me. I didn’t feel challenged or satisfied, and I felt a sense of dread every Sunday when I thought about going back to work the next day.

A discovery period

I knew I was ready for a change and was optimistic that there was a better career fit out there for me, so when I was fired a few months ago, I took the time to do some soul searching. I applied and interviewed for a lot of different types of jobs, from event planning to recruiting. I was waiting for an epiphany to happen, where I would suddenly realize what I was wanted to do. It felt as if it would never come, but then, when I was least expecting it…

BOOM! Suddenly it all became clear. I want to work with kids! Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved children. Starting around age 10 I worked as a “Mother’s Helper”, then a Babysitter, then a camp counselor. I’m the type of person who will stop and stare at a cute baby on the street before I notice the cute puppy. Being around children brings me a certain joy, similar to how I feel when I’m outside on a beautiful sunny day. When I thought about working with young children, I felt happy. It felt right.

But I was still scared. Am I crazy? Should I really make this big of a change in my career? CAN I really make this big of a change? Will anyone hire me? What if I don’t like it after all? All of these questions ran through my head over and over again, but I knew I had to give it a try.

And boy did giving it a try pay off! I applied and landed an interview, and then a position as a sub, at a preschool here in Austin. They let me try out subbing for a couple weeks to get a feel for the school and see how I liked it, and to see if they thought I’d be a good fit.

The preschool is unique because it was created with a yoga-type philosophy, focusing on social & emotional development, play, and mindfulness. I really resonated with the mission of the school, having gone to the Austin Waldorf School when I was young, which has very similar values.

A new chapter

As of last week, I am officially an Assistant Teacher at the preschool, working with the youngest group, ages 18 months to 2 years! I’ll be completing trainings over the next few months, and will get the opportunity to do yoga teacher training this summer. I love everyone I work with (kids and other adults) and I’m so glad I took this leap!

I feel happy at work. HAPPY. This weekend I actually felt excited to go back to work on Monday. EXCITED. No more of that familiar Sunday Dread. I feel challenged every day, and no day has been the same. I’m constantly learning and growing and observing. I can already tell the kids are going to teach me just as much as I teach them. I’m just feeling genuinely content with where I am, and I’m looking forward to what the future holds!

If you’re feeling unhappy at your job, maybe it’s time for a change. Don’t feel stuck just because you have a certain college degree, or you’ve been doing one kind of job for years. It’s never too late to change course. What do you love to do? What skills do you have? When you close your eyes, what job can you imagine yourself truly enjoying? I promise you have more possibilities than you might think. You just have to be brave!

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

Job Satisfaction and Fear of Failure

For a little over a year, I had a great job. Or rather, the kind of job that looks great on a resume. When I got the job offer in September of 2017, I thought “I would be stupid not to take this offer!” I was making more money than I ever had before. The job came with more vacation days than I could use in a year, and extra perks like free lunches twice a week. It was the kind of job my friends were jealous of. The catch? I wasn’t happy.

“Nobody likes their job!” That was the most common response people gave me over the past few months when I expressed I had grown unhappy at work. I knew in my gut I wanted to leave, but that response made me feel like I should just suck it up. Like maybe I was overreacting and needed to just grow a thicker skin, because everyone else was in the same boat.

“If everyone is right and nobody likes their job, then I guess it’s just something I need to get used to and stop complaining about. Maybe seeking happiness at work is unrealistic. Will I be any happier at a new job? Maybe I’m the problem, and I’m just not fit to be in a 9 to 5 job! Maybe things will get better if I just try harder and stick it out…”

My inner thoughts over the past few months

I let other people’s opinions and comments about how “nobody likes their job” get to me. I decided that if I worked harder, and tried on a “fake it till you make it” attitude, maybe things would magically get better at work. The problem was, I didn’t feel passionate or satisfied with anything I was doing. I was burning myself out on a job I didn’t love. Before too long this started to reflect in my work. I wasn’t performing as well as I could have. Which only made my satisfaction at work plummet even more.

I’ve always been a perfectionist. I seek approval from others, as well as from myself. I so badly wanted to make this job work, to prove I was competent and capable and good enough. I was terrified of failure, of being judged, of what people would think of me if I didn’t succeed. It took me back to the feeling of being a teenager, scared of making anything less than an A in school. Or a 20-something avoiding sharing the news that my relationship had failed.

This blog provides an outlet for me to be vulnerable and talk about things that are difficult to admit. It forces me to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life. Little by little, I’m ridding myself of the notion that I need to appear perfect to everyone in my life. It’s so freeing to let go of that and just be open and honest. So here goes: I lost my job. I tried to make it work, and I failed.

It was a surreal experience because, like I said above, I wasn’t happy. I didn’t actually want to be there. But my fear of failure and of other people’s judgements was stronger than my desire to leave. The silver lining is that I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and changed my perspective on job satisfaction. My opinion is, if you truly are unhappy in your job, don’t ignore that! It’s okay to walk away. Don’t let fear of failure overpower your own happiness. Trying to force yourself to be happy never works. Ignoring those feelings will only backfire, and it will all catch up to you eventually. 

So where am I now? I’m what I like to call “happily unemployed.” I’m taking some time to really think about what I want and need out of my next job. Do I want to continue working in the social media field, or do I want to make a career change? This is the main question I’m asking myself as I assess my options and look for a new job. The main thing I’m feeling right now is excitement for the future. I don’t know where I’ll be a month from now, but I’m ready for a new beginning!

Have you ever felt stuck in a job you didn’t love? Do you agree with the idea that “nobody likes their job”? Let me know in the comments!

Life doesn’t always go according to plan

Hey everyone, it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. I’ve been really itching to start blogging again, but I just haven’t been able to decide on what to write. Writing about Spain was easy- who doesn’t love writing about travel and adventure? When I got back from Spain I told myself I would keep writing about random things, and I had plenty of ideas, but alas, my senior year began and I just didn’t have the time or energy to make an effort. I also kept telling myself that my life wasn’t interesting enough to write about.

Fast forward to now: I am a proud TCU graduate with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising, and a Spanish minor. However, there are a few things in my life that are not at all how I pictured them. When I was going to TCU, I had this whole plan for what things would look like after graduation: I would have a full-time job that I loved, I would be living in Austin in a cute little apartment all my own, and I would be surrounded by great friends. In reality, I am currently living back at home with my parents, I am still looking for a job, and I suddenly feel as though all of my close friends are elsewhere. This situation, and the fact that I find myself utterly unable to control my own life, has been very difficult for me to handle.

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I have always been a planner. I loved planning fabulous birthday parties for myself when I was growing up. I was always the friend in the group that would get back in contact with everyone from high school and plan group get-togethers whenever we were back in Austin during college. And I used a calendar and planner religiously for my college classes. I just like to feel in control, which I think is a natural desire for most people. I have also always been a dreamer and an optimist. I have thought up countless ideas for books and movies inside my own head, and I am constantly trying to see the brighter side of a situation. This has made the reality of my life even more difficult, because I have had to realize that some things cannot be controlled or planned. I have applied to and interviewed for countless jobs, but in the end have had no real tangible control over whether or not I land the job. The optimist in me keeps telling myself that those jobs just weren’t meant to be. That I will find the right fit eventually. But it’s hard not to start feeling defeated and take things personally.

I suppose all you can do is try your best to reach your goals, while also realizing that sometimes life doesn’t go according to the plan you have laid out for yourself. I always pictured myself getting a job before I graduated, living on my own, and generally living up my post-grad life. But you know what else I pictured myself doing at one point in life? Being a professional ballerina. Starring in a movie. Joining a band. Playing intramural sports in college. Getting my Hogwarts letter. Dating Ashton Kutcher. You get my point.

Thinking about all of those dreams and plans that at one point seemed so important to me makes me realize that sometimes it’s best to just sit back, relax and enjoy life as it unfolds. Without trying to micromanage it or decide your own fate. I didn’t die from not playing sports in college or becoming a famous actress. And I certainly won’t be killed by unemployment.

So if you are in my shoes, and you’ve been feeling down about the seemingly unfair cards you have been dealt lately, just remember that it gets better. Okay that was cheesy. But seriously, remember that not everything in life can be planned, and not everything will happen the way you hope it will. Just take a deep breathe, and keep working towards your goals, without beating yourself up or concentrating on your “failures”. And if you NEED to feel in control over something, try making some small decision that you know will make you happy. For instance, I just cut my hair shorter after having it long for a while now. I’m loving the new haircut, and it weirdly makes me feel very empowered. Like I have a say in the changes in my life. I may not have full control over when I get a job, but I sure as heck have control over when I get a killer new look!

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Comment below if you have gone through what I am going through. I would love to hear any pieces of advice you might have for staying positive and letting go of things that aren’t in my control!