At the beginning of 2020.
I've never shared this with oppo.
2019 was an interesting year. I was fired from what I considered at the time to be a good job. What followed were months spent bouncing around.
I apprenticed as a tile guy in a non-union position for a few months. The pay wasn't great, but it passed the time and as I told myself—tiling was a relevant skill. I could renovate my bathroom at long last! Yeah... It wasn't long before 50 mile commutes in the Miata took their toll on me. Between that and the physical demands of the job that I was struggling to keep up with, I had to walk away.
I spent a week washing windows again for my old boss—but I couldn't live with the feeling that I'd just regressed back to six years prior, with little to show for it.
So—with dwindling funds—I purchased a laptop. With an uncharacteristically sunny Seattle June, I spent every day out and about networking. Coffee shops, parks, gyms... Everywhere was fair game. I was a shark, and small business owners my prey. The sweet spot was single crew to three crew operations. These outfits were generally run by an older guy who had done well enough to have a successful business, but didn't have the knowledge necessary to push the company to the next step where growth really takes off.
See, I'd put together three pretty slick advertising packages. Different tiers, if you will.
Cut through the BS, and it was just basic marketing tools. Buy a domain, make a a company email address, create a modern website. Join and be active on social media. Engage with people online. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Automate schedules, maintenance, and every other piece of low-hanging fruit that can push growth and remove the opportunity for human error.
$999.99 and I'd set up the basics.
$1999.99 and I'd do the basic plan plus head a full advertising campaign on Google, and FB, along with design vinyl wraps for company vehicles and more tradition physical advertising methods, such as yard signs.
$3499.99 would get you the premium plan (basic - premium - premium plus. Where's my oppo card?) plus teach an optomized hiring process, set the company up with various timekeeping, scheduling, payroll apps, and create a 5 year plan based on company goals.
Not a single client went with the "basic" plan.
Slightly over two months of this, I walked away with just over $20k. I sold the company to a former employer for half that, and without a career of any kind, flew off to Asia with a friend for two weeks. What I didn't tell him was that I had neither purchased a return ticket, nor was I planning on coming back with him.
Two weeks went by and my friend returned home. I decided to leave Tokyo and head back to Bangkok, where my remaining money would stretch about twice as long.
A drunken hookup led to a relationship of sorts with a wealthy Thai woman. I was deeply entrenched in a for-the-love-of-god-do-not-think-about-the-future mentality, so... I hung out in Bangkok for awhile. Bouncing around between airbnb's and hotels, I spent a lot of time exploring some of the best nightlife in the world with my new "girlfriend". She also paid for literally everything, which uh.... Was equally unsettling and appreciated by my wallet. Somehow in the span of a few months, I'd gone from middle-management, to a skilled trade, to an entrepreneur, to unemployed with a sugar momma. She tried to talk me into staying permanently, getting a job as a teacher. Probably wouldn't have been a bad life...
Alas, I started getting restless and flew off to a tropical Thai island. Hiking, hanging out with wild cats, exploring the reefs... If your goal is to escape, well, everything, you couldn't ask for much more.
Eventually though I ran low on cash, and the part of my brain that I'd been silencing for months broke through—admonishing me to think about my future. The clock was running down and I had no job, no money, a home I hadn't seen in months, and I needed to do something—anything—to progress my life.
I flew home.
Back to the normal life. Depression came roaring back, with nothing but weekly hikes holding the crushing waves at bay. Well, it was more the person I was hiking with. A few months pass, and things went sour between us. Your mind does a wonderful job of smoothing over pain, and for that I'm thankful because the next few months were the lowest point in my life. Motivation and health dropped inverse to depression. I stayed in, saw nobody outside of the few days a week I worked.
Work. My job as a delivery driver was a constant source of frustration. I desperately wanted out, but the fog was thick and I could see no better options.
December, 2019. I vividly recall flipping a coin. Heads, I leave my job and summit Mt. Rainier the next day. While I was a strong hiker, I lacked any alpine experience, let alone gear. Attempting this in the heart of winter... Well. A flip of a coin is why I'm here now writing this.
Join the military. The closest thing I could imagine to the fresh start I desired so greatly.
I chose the Air Force.
With help from a fellow oppo, I settled some legal issues and began the application process. For a month straight I trained body and mind—newfound purpose lighting a fire that had been out for far too long.
Character references were contacted without issue. Interviews were aced. Aptitude tests left me with my destiny as an airman in my own hands. I signed, shook my recruiters hand, and walked away with a massive weight off my shoulders. I had a future lined up.
Then came Covid-19, with the first known US outbreak happening in my city, just miles from my home.
I'd transfered to a new group within the overarching umbrella of my greater company, and the shift was huge for my mental state.
With Covid becoming more and more of a problem, the Air Force shut down training facilities. I was still in touch with my recruiter, and one day he sent an email asking me to re-submit a document. A minor clerical issue, but it was apparently enough to keep me out until fixed.
I spent a lot of time weighing my options.
In the end, I never responded to the recruiter.
Mere weeks later I was promoted to junior management following unprecedented growth in the shipping and e-commerce industries. Another two months and senior management was mine for the taking, a full 44 months earlier than the jump would have occurred during normal times.
As the chaos grew, so too did opportunities for advancement.
I still think about the life I would have had in the Air Force, but at the end of the day I'm happy with my choices and the personal growth I've achieved.
I can say with confidence that the loss of a job will never again hurt me in any way other than monetarily, because I've learned that for me at least, the only battle is the internal one, and I can't lose if I never admit defeat.
Merry Christmas oppo. Thanks for all the help through the years. May 2021 be a year full of growth—in whatever way you need.