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Oh 2015… I can’t say I’m sad that you’re now long gone.
2015 wasn’t a great for year me. Which is why I’ve procrastinated on finishing this recap post. And why I only blogged a handful of times over the last year.
Like many people do, I started looking back over as the year end approached. But unlike many people, instead of starting fresh in the new year, I was still feeling stuck in the past. And this feeling lingered on well into January.
I could sum up my year in 2 words: underemployed and broke.
Finding a good job basically overshadowed everything else. But as the months passed, my definition of what “good” meant changed significantly. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy, I just wanted something that I liked, was qualified for, and that paid a fair wage. In other words, a job that you would expect someone in their early 30s, with a degree and years of experience to have.
Not being able to find a job that met that criteria obviously had a negative impact on my/our finances. For the first time in my life, 2015 left me with credit card debt, and was the first time I purposely didn’t pay my bills because eating was more important.
Yes, sometimes, 2015 was that bad.
January – May
I started off last year working a part-time, minimum wage job at a drop in daycare. I really enjoyed it at first, but by January the honeymoon phase had worn off. Between the high turn over in management, the never ending illnesses that comes with working with toddlers, and feeling like I was always on-call, the high stress and low pay just didn’t seem worth it.
I was miserable, and wanted to quit every single day.
I was still applying for other jobs constantly, but nothing was panning out. One of the few interviews I did have ended up being a disaster when I showed up to find no one there to interview me. It felt like the world was working against me.
June – September
June was definitely the low of the year for me.
I had reached my breaking point, and I finally quit.
By then, my car loan had been paid off (yay!) which took some of the pressure off our budget. R’s hours also doubled over the summer months, and as a one-car household with no public transportation available, it made more financial sense for me not to work at that particular job than it was to pay for cabs all the time.
Later that same week was my birthday – which was also our original wedding date. We knew months before that our wedding wasn’t going to happen on June 13th like we had planned (due to both our finances and a scheduling conflict with family). But as the day approached I couldn’t help but feel bummed about it.
That is until Oreo (my almost 18 year old cat) suddenly took a turn for the worse. He had given us a scare the summer before, but with a proper diagnosis from the vet and a change to his diet, he had been doing so much better. He died the day before my birthday.
So instead of celebrating my birthday as a newlywed, surrounded by friends and family, I was struggling just to keep it all together.
I spent most of the summer depressed.
I still checked the job boards several times a day and desperately applied to everything I could. But my applications went unanswered. Except in the cases where I was sent rejections via email.
It was not the summer I had anticipated.
After sulking around the house for weeks, I knew something had to change.
As the summer was coming to an end, I started seeing more and more private childcare jobs popping up. I created a profile on one of the caregiver websites, and soon started nannying part-time for a family with one little girl.
I had considered pursuing a career in early childhood education at one point in my life, but obviously chose a different (although related) path. So I was reluctant at first to settle for being “just a babysitter”, but this was such a better fit than the daycare was that I wish I had gone this route instead.
I quickly bonded with the family and their daughter. For the first time in years I actually felt valued and appreciated at my job, and was compensated fairly for it.
The only downside was that it was only part-time. And while my income was similar to what it had been working at the daycare, it was still only about 30% of what I had previously made at the college.
Nannying a few mornings helped me break out of my rut, and provided us some financial security.
Coupled with an unexpected (and unfortunately short-lived) accountability partnership with fellow blogger and aspiring freelance writer, Kirsten of Indebted and In Debt, I finally got a wave of motivation in August.
For the first time, I was going to try to make working for myself a reality.
Although I kept an eye on the job boards, I stopped focusing on trying to find a traditional job in my city. Instead, I shifted my focus to finding/creating a job online.
I’ve had some financial success with My Life, I Guess… over the past 3 years, but turning it into a business or source of income was not my original intent. But after seeing countless other bloggers take the leap, the idea was growing in the back of my mind.
At first, things went okay.
But going from blogging as a “hobby” to blogging as a “job” was a lot harder than I had thought.
As soon as my focus changed from the casual “this is what’s going on with me right now” type posts to the more formulaic “must write a numbered list that follows all the rules and every sentence is optimized and contains affiliate links” I froze.
I became so overwhelmed with all the blogging “rules”, that writing had become a frustrating chore instead of a fun/productive hobby. Every draft that I wrote sounded either robotic or whiny. I had completely lost my voice.
I was also completely unprepared to start pitching to other websites as a freelance writer. I don’t know what I was thinking – I struggle to post once a month on my own website, what made me think I could start writing at least once a week for others?
So instead, I started accepting every sponsored post that came my way. And soon, my blog was overtaken by poorly written articles that promoted a product or service that had no relevance to you or I. Often at a low-ball price, because $20 was better than $0. And having something posted on my website was better than having nothing.
September – December
In early September, R and I took our first (quick) trip together to attend my sisters’ wedding in Toronto. The wedding was beautiful, and it was great to spend time with my family. Many of whom were meeting R for the first time.
Even though it was only for a few days, it was refreshing to get away.
But it also made me realize that blogging as a job was not working for me. I loved the idea, but I couldn’t force it to happen out of desperation.
It didn’t take long for that “stuck” feeling to return.
Unfortunately, by November things with R’s job were also looking bleak. His unions’ strike deadline was quickly approaching, and nothing had been resolved.
The pressure for me to find a way to make more money was high.
But it finally worked.
After an interview in early December, I accepted a full-time job with a multi-site daycare centre!
The first full-time job I’ve been offered since I started at the college almost 2 and a half years ago.
It broke my heart to tell my nanny-family the news because I didn’t want to quit working with them. Thankfully, they were able to keep me on on a casual basis instead, so I didn’t have to give it up entirely.
Before closing for the Christmas holidays, I completed some online training and paperwork for the daycare, and waited for the new year to begin my new job.
(But *spoiler alert for an upcoming post* – I am not currently working full time…)
I’d like to say that this new job helped to end the year on a positive note, and it did to an extent, but the reality of R going on strike was only growing. Even working full-time at the daycare and part-time babysitting, I wasn’t going to make enough money to support us both.
Instead of starting fresh in the new year, we were once again stuck waiting – which has become an all too familiar feeling for us.
Waiting for my new job to start. Waiting for news on the impending strike.
And hoping for a better 2016.
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