Finding Your Spark: Job Hopping, Listening To Yourself, And Establishing Roots

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I decided to start the "Finding Your Spark" series to shine a light on different types of people who are following various paths – their OWN paths, whatever those may be. The whole idea is that there's no single way to live life and a person doesn't have to be "famous" to inspire others. These individuals have found what inspires them, motivates them, makes them happy. And they've run with it.

Read all posts in this series here.

A lot of the stories in this series have involved people moving out of their home state to somewhere new. This time, I wanted to shine a light on the opposite end, the beauty of home and family and establishing roots for your future.

Andrea is a very dear friend of mine who I met in college. She's honest, funny, and unapologetically herself, which I love. Our boyfriends became fast friends, so the four of us hang out pretty often, which makes me happiest.

Since graduating college in 2015, she had a few jobs before settling into a news reporting and editing position last February. In the summer of 2017, she and her boyfriend Anthony bought a house together and then, a few months later, bought the cutest shih tzu who even has her own Instagram account. During our chat, Andrea and I talk about how she's grown, independently and in her relationship, and the beauty in the beginning of her own little family.

After graduating college, you "job hopped" a bit for the first year or so, and even wrote a bit about it earlier this year. What was your thought process during that? How did you feel about it?

While I was in the process, a lot of the time I was scared and anxious. I questioned myself on whether leaving or accepting a job was the right thing for me to do. When I was unhappy at the jobs I held, it sucked. It’s hard going to work each day if you know you’ll be sitting there miserable. When I made the decision to leave a job and make a change, I immediately felt better. But the process to get to that decision was not a fun one.

What was that process?

Well, it depended on the job. Sometimes it was me realizing the job description wasn't exactly what it portrayed to be, and sometimes it was just a gut feeling. And sometimes it didn't happen right away, but it happened gradually as I settled into the job. When it happened gradually, I just came to realize that it wasn't a right fit for me.

What did your "job hopping" teach you?

It taught me not to settle and not to be scared to trust myself. I know what’s best for me. Finding the right job for me meant finding out what I liked and disliked in my work life. I’m so, so happy with the job I have now, and I wouldn’t change the process of getting there, because I think it’s made me a better employee.

How so?

I think knowing exactly what I want has made me find a job that I really enjoy. When I know what I'm doing, I know my work is better for it.

What advice do you have for others who are insecure about their own "job hopping"?

Trust yourself. If you go into an interview for a job, and you immediately have a feeling that this isn’t for you... listen to yourself.

(This advice goes for people who already have a job and are looking for a new one. If you are unemployed and just searching for a paycheck, the outlook is different.)

What about people who are currently at a job they want to leave but are insecure about doing so? Or, as you said, need the paycheck?

If you're insecure about leaving a job, talk to your friends, family, significant other, and people close to you. You will find you have so much support and so many people that want to see you happy; it will make the decision easier.

If you need the paycheck, then obviously it's a bit more difficult. I was fortunate, but if you're truly unhappy at your job, I think there's a way to balance searching for a new job and staying at your old one. If you start searching for a new job and going on interviews, it will make you happier because you know that soon you will be leaving the job that makes you unhappy.

What made you and Anthony decide to buy a house instead of renting an apartment?

We did start off looking at apartments! As we looked in our area, it was so expensive. More expensive than a mortgage. For us, we knew where we wanted to live, and because of our jobs, we knew we would be sticking around in the community for a while. We were fortunate enough to have some money saved up, and so we started looking at houses instead of apartments.

What has been the best part?

Making a space that’s our own. I didn’t go away to college, so this is the first time that I’ve gotten to completely make a space my own (painting, decorating, buying furniture). It’s also really nice to come home at the end of a busy day to a place that’s yours.

And the most challenging?

As a lot of couples will probably say, it’s challenging to live with your significant other! I can be kind of a stubborn, very organized person. If things aren’t neat and organized, it really bugs me. I’ve had to realize that I have lived a certain way all my life, but it’s not necessarily how Anthony lives. It’s been a process, but we’ve learned each other’s likes and dislikes and how to navigate them.

What made you decide to stay in your hometown? Did you and Anthony consider moving elsewhere?

I knew I wanted to stay close to my family (all of whom live in my town or neighboring ones). Anthony grew up away from the Chicago suburbs, but he also wanted to find a place close by for his job and he knew it was important to me. I’ve always known I wanted to live in the town I grew up in, so it was kind of a no-brainer for me to start looking there.

Personally, I compare myself to others a lot and sometimes feel like I should be moving elsewhere instead of staying close to home. Do you ever feel like that? Similarly, what advice do you have for people who feel like they should be taking other "life paths" than the ones they're taking?

I definitely used to feel that way a lot, and compare myself to friends. I think I stopped doing that when I decided not to go away to college. I commuted to school, even though every single one of my high school friends went away to college. I feel like that kind of forced me to look at my decisions and realize that what makes me happy isn’t necessarily what others will choose to do, and vice versa.

Were you and Anthony expecting to buy a dog so soon? How has that been?

I grew up having a dog, and Anthony's family always had animals as well, so we knew we would get one eventually. We had talked about it, and said that we would get a dog before the end of the year for sure. We went out one weekend randomly in October and found Skylar, and that was pretty much it.

At first, it was really hard. I was having allergy issues when we first introduced her into the home, and I was scared we’d have to get rid of her. I also suck at accepting change, and this was a big change in my life! However, a few weeks passed, and slowly we grew to develop a routine, and now I don’t know what I’d do without her!

What's one thing, good or bad, that you've learned that most people don't expect/realize about living with their significant other? And/or about owning a pet?

Well, for both things, I've learned that it can be hard. That's probably cliché, and most couples will probably tell you that things aren't always easy. But, the silver lining of that is that when times are good, you appreciate them more. You're never going to agree with your significant other on everything, you're going to argue, but you'll make compromises and make it work.

It's the same thing with having a puppy. It's hard to take care of another living thing, and sometimes you don't want to get up at 6 a.m. to let her outside, but you divide and conquer and you split the work in half. I think it's worth it.

Where do you see your life going from here? What goals do you have moving forward?

I’d really like to go back to school. I’d like to get my master’s degree, and hopefully be able to teach journalism/media/public relations classes. I’ve been fortunate to have amazing teachers in both high school and college who taught me how to be the writer I am today, and I’d love to do that with any aspiring journalists or writers.
As a couple, I think Anthony and I would like to get married in the near future. I’m not saying there will be a wedding tomorrow, but it’s somewhere on the horizon!

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