Thanksgiving Thankfulness #2 – Working

by brandt

I know, it’s another odd thing to be thankful for.  And of course, Uncle Brandt has another story to tell.  So gather ‘round the old rocking chair while I spin another yarn that according to Ashley is semi-true.

At one point, I had life all planned out.  We were both going to graduate, get jobs, make tons of cash, then Ashley would be pregnant and we could start our family.  We’d be living in Arizona, a place I’ve always wanted to live, and a place with sun all year round for Ashley to enjoy.  We would be close enough to her family to not break the bank if we wanted to visit, and would be in a place I knew my parents would want to visit.  I’d have my job in advertising or marketing with a big company with great perks, and we would enjoy ourselves sitting out until 10:00PM at the pool because it would still be warm, and everything would be perfect.

Because life always works out when you plan it out to the most finite detail, doesn’t it?

I guess you could say I had my head in the clouds.  Perhaps it was drinking the Kool-Aid spouted off by professors about their lives and their post-graduated ex-students lives.  Maybe I watched too many movies or TV shows to contribute to this type of thinking.  But I knew exactly where I wanted to be.

We played it safe.  I love advertising, but wanted to make sure that I had a backup in place in case advertising didn’t work out.  I got a major in finance, a minor in advertising, and loved every minute of what I was doing.  Ashley felt the same way – she got her major in English (professional writing) and her minor in Journalism.

While we were starting our senior year of college, the economy crashed.  And every single person was affected by it except those of us in school at the time.  I remember hearing about layoffs and cutbacks in companies, and I thought to myself “I feel bad for the people who are graduating this semester, but by the time we graduate, all this will be over and we’ll get our jobs, no problem at all.  And if the economy still isn’t over it, I’ve got a ton of networking contacts, so it’s all good.”

And then my final senior semester began.  Along with senior projects and presentations seemingly every week, plus working my part time job on campus, all my time was spent networking and job searching.  Our university took groups of students to various “big” cities to visit with companies, show off it’s student’s, develop networking contacts, and introduce students and potential employers.  We called them “Expeditions.”  During those final 4-5 months, I went on “Expeditions” to Phoenix and Seattle, plus career fairs on campuses in both Utah and Idaho, and worked my networking contacts back here in Michigan hoping to find a break.  As hard as I seemed to be looking, though, there was one response that was common – “We’re just not hiring right now.”  As graduation approached, and jobs seemed to be on the minds of almost every classmate of mine, I took stock of things: I still had Michigan.

So we packed up, put our loveable Chevy Tracker on a trailer, hooked it up to the UHaul, and started making the drive towards the Great Lakes State, my hometown, where we would live with my parents and begin the jobhunt anew.

(Be still my beating heart – who wouldn’t be excited about moving back in with their parents?)

Luckily, my parents had a finished basement with a full bathroom, and it was a nice private space for us to set up shop and begin hunting.

But this isn’t a gloom and doom piece.  After 4 months of looking, both Ashley and I found jobs.  While we both would have been considered underemployed, it felt a lot better to be getting a real paycheck instead of watching our savings dwindle down to nothing.  About a year after finding my first job, I was offered a real position at a major IT company, and I’ve been there since August of 2010.

So why am I thankful for working?  It’s not for the money.  It’s not for the benefits.  It’s not for the perks of working where I do.  It’s not for the social aspect or the notoriety.

I’m thankful for working because not working almost drove Ashley and I into depression and insanity.  Our schedule went from getting up early to get a start on the day to slowly but surely waking up later, and later, and later.  During the lowest of the lows, we would go to sleep at about 2:30AM and get up at about 11 or 11:30 AM.  There really was no reason to wake up, because all prospects we had for leads were from job board postings.  Our marriage suffered a little bit because of it as well, seeing that we were spending all day every day around each other with nothing new going on and nothing to talk about.  I would mow my parents lawn twice a week just to be able to look out on something and say I did it.  As odd as it sounds, we could only really be happy if we were eating, which is not a good path to go down.

I’m thankful for working because of that – working.  I come from a very industrious family, one who has always been on the go and on the move.  As a matter of fact, the inspiration to find a house that we could fix up came from watching my parents fix up their summer home in Northern Michigan.  I chomp at the bit to get things going and frankly, sometimes having a day off from work drives me nuts because I either get distracted with 20 different projects, or can’t figure out where to start.

Sure, I wake up in the morning tired, and I get frustrated at work, and sometimes I get fed up, but at the end of the day, I never ever wake up and say “I don’t want to go to work today.” And I hope I never will.

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