Over the last several weeks since my PTSD post, I have been trying to decide how much of what has been going on to blog about. First of all, initially I just didn’t want to write anything. I can count on one hand how often I have felt this way in the last four years. I also wasn’t that crazy about opening myself up to feedback from anyone. I have been in a very raw mental state and need time to desensitize a little. Also I was focused on my new grandchild and it would be easy to skip ahead a bit and not talk about the struggles. Unfortunately, there was no way for me to skip this post and for the story to make any sense. I don’t feel like I owe anyone these details about my life, but I do feel like I owe the narrative. Unless I am willing to just stop posting this blog and end it here, I need to talk about some things.
In a nutshell, Lee and I have hit a major crossroad. I would like this lifestyle to change for us and he is happy the way things are. We have spent hours discussing this and cannot seem to find common ground. In order to explain how we got here, I am going to step back a little and try and put things into context.
When we first went on the road 4-1/2 years ago Lee quit his job and had no expectation that he would be able to do much production work on the road. Actually that’s not totally true, we both thought he would be able to work in his field, but when that didn’t happen for us Lee was fine with it. Once or twice a year he does shows with an old company he used to work for and that activity coupled with the videos he makes for the blog seem to fill his creative need.
I kept my job for the first year on the road and then took a buyout to explore other options. At the time I felt like my position was at risk, and I wanted to try to do some consulting. I was very interested in the perceived freedom those consulting jobs would provide and we also wanted to try work kamping jobs and see if we could meet our budget working those. Over the last few years we have tried a variety of different jobs and essentially found that if we were careful we could make ends meet.
Anything extra we needed had to come from our savings and over time we went from $40K in savings down to $16K. From Lee’s perspective we are doing pretty good and since we still have our 401K it was a non issue. He likes the relative freedom that comes from working these seasonal jobs and although he finds many of them frustrating, he likes the idea that we can theoretically leave if things get too rough. I say theoretically because it isn’t that simple and although we have often wanted to leave jobs we never have. Part of that is work ethic and part of that is the need for the money, but it is true that we could walk away much easier than we could have with a mortgage.
My problem is that I really don’t care about the freedom and I miss working in my field. It’s been three years now since I worked in a traditional job and the gap in my resume is getting harder to cover. That coupled with the depletion of our bank account makes me want to find something in my field, even for just a year or so. Numerous times in the last three years I have attempted to find a consulting job, but the timing was never right and it is more difficult than you might think to find a remote job.
For one thing many of those jobs require a strong internet connection which we don’t have. The ones that don’t require a strong connection often involve travel, which can get complicated when you are traveling. Trust me, people want to know where your home base is and any attempt I have made to be completely honest about how much I travel has ended up with a swift end to the interview process. I have been forced to change my “residence” and look for local work in areas, which could be successful if we were willing to stay in one place for six months or more. Even temporary jobs in my field are six months to a year and we have never wanted to stay in one place that long.
After realizing all the challenges, with Lee’s encouragement I went another route. We tried to find seasonal work that would allow me to use my skill set and since money was a lesser concern I thought that would be easy. Who wouldn’t want $60 an hour skills for $20 an hour? But I didn’t take into account the Bias Against Seasonal Workers. For a variety of reason many companies only give certain responsibilities to full time employees and despite spending time proving myself, those attempts led to a dead end. That path was actually more frustrating for me, because I knew I could do a good job, there was a need for the job to be done, but I wasn’t allowed to do it. I felt like my face was pushed against the glass and I was watching the inside. Super frustrating.
I have been super honest about these feelings and we have talked through the basic scenarios and Lee was willing to commit to six months in a place if he absolutely had to. I decided that with the baby coming this was a great time to stay in one place for awhile, and was going to look in the South Carolina area. Then the heart attack happened. For those of you who have been through one, it is no surprise that the experience causes both people to really look at the life they are living.
For Lee, it reaffirmed the fact that he was living the right life for him and made him very resistant to any changes. For me it was a wake-up call that if something happened to him I was totally screwed and I couldn’t rely on the fact that I could snap my fingers and find a job making six figures again. Yes, I have enough money in savings to hopefully have enough time to figure things out, but I don’t have enough to not work for several months.
And to be clear it’s not just about the money. I miss the fulfillment I used to get from working. My jobs used to be a major part of my self worth and although I have learned over the last few years to let some of that go, it is a base of strength for me. If I lost Lee, I would need something like that in my life to help me keep it together. If I was a different type of person I could let my profession go forever. I just don’t want to, and the scare I received when I almost lost him made that really clear to me.
On some level, Lee feels I am choosing the job over him. I get that, and I also get that the timing of this is not great. We have gone through a ton of change over the last few months and need time for things to settle down. I just don’t feel like I can wait. So I have been spending hours each week looking for jobs and putting out at least 1-2 applications a day.
Turns out I don’t think I am wrong about not waiting. Since a remote job would allow the most flexibility I am looking for those, but there are not that many of them. Even the remote jobs often require you live in a particular area, so I am looking at a subset of a subset of positions. The positions I do find I am not always 100% qualified for and despite hearing that it is good to stretch and apply for those, I am getting almost instant rejections. Enough people are under employed in today’s market that these jobs are hot commodities.
The other problem is I am not in my 30’s. Many of these postings are specifically framed for a millennial and although I apply for them anyway I often hear, “as impressive as your qualifications are…we are going in a different direction.” In the four weeks I have been applying, I have only had three interviews, and those have unfortunately not gone anywhere. To try to counter that I have spent hours going through my Linked In contacts and seen where my colleagues are working and if those companies are hiring. When I apply I am asking my former colleagues for a recommendation, but unfortunately almost all of those jobs are based in a city. In the rare cases where they are remote, I don’t have the right skill set. Again frustrating.
But I keep plugging away. As Cori says, just keep throwing your line in and eventually you will get a nibble. I know it takes most people at my level 4 months to find a job so I just keep looking. What is making this really tough is that I feel like I am in it alone. The fact that I am even looking is causing conflict and I know that when eventually I will need to ask for compromise in our traveling schedule it’s going to be a huge problem.
So I am going to throw the situation out to the readers and see if anyone knows of a position that would be a good fit for me. I am including my Linked In profile so you can see my resume and if you have any leads I would appreciate you emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a wonderful community of people, and I want to exhaust all possibilities. I am looking for any remote position with up to 50% travel. I can work as a Project Manager (Functional or IT), Business Analyst, Six Sigma Black Belt, Corporate Trainer, or Change Agent. Money is a secondary concern and I am happy to work for a lower rate for the right opportunity.
As far as Lee and I, maybe this will show him how serious I am about wanting to find a solution that works for both of us. It won’t be the first time I “talked” to him through this blog about a difficult subject and if you have seen this that means he read it and approved it for publishing. That’s a good sign.
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