If You Give Up, Nothing Will Change

I’m reminded of J.K. Rowling’s story. She was poor while writing Harry Potter and raising a child. I’m there now, minus the child.

“I think the single biggest thing that money gave me—and obviously I came from a place where I was a single mother and it really was hand to mouth at one point. It was literally as poor as you can get in Britain without being homeless at one point. If you’ve ever been there you will never, ever take for granted that you don’t need to worry. Never.” -J.K. Rowling

I’ve been going back and forth about sharing this. You don’t want to blog about the bad stuff. Maybe my story will help someone.

Last year, I got my second masters. Ideally, I’d like to earn a living through my business- writing, photography, cover design and being an author consultant. I know that’s not realistic for the first couple of years unless I get a loan. I have about $300,000 in student loans so I don’t want any more debt.

While in school, I was living off my tuition refund and using those 3 years to establish my business. I hoped by the time I graduated, I would have some income to cover my bills. When that didn’t happen, I started applying for jobs. This was last summer.

I talked to a career coach and had them look at my resume, LinkedIn profile and portfolios. They gave me some tips. They were pretty confident I’d be able to find a job soon.

Almost a year later, I’m still unemployed. I’m now living on public assistance because I don’t have any money. My landlord’s taking me to court to collect unpaid rent.

I know it’s normal for recent graduates to have trouble finding a job. We usually have to start with entry level positions and work our way up. I’m good with that. I can’t even get an entry level job.

I’ve had my resume and cover letter looked at a number of times. I’ve asked friends and family members for help. They’re all on the lookout for leads. They’re submitting my resume. Nothing’s working.

I’ve gone to both of my schools for help. They’ve looked over my resume and cover letter and gave me tips. One had a career fair which I attended. Still no job.

Through all this, I’m also publishing books, selling my photos and marketing myself in hopes that maybe, despite all logic, that route can save me. I’ve researched different marketing tactics. I studied book marketing in school. I’m taking marketing courses on Lynda.com.

My books and photos are selling. I’m not getting enough money to pay bills.

The path of artist isn’t a whole lot of fun. People like to romanticize the starving artist. I’ve had to go to bed hungry a couple of times. It’s unpleasant. I’ve gotten angry at my stomach. It wouldn’t stop grumbling. Recently, I had to hand wash my clothes because I couldn’t afford to go the laundry mat.

You have to focus on your goals even if it feels like you’ll never reach them. Being poor, you become grateful for the little things like food that fills me and tastes good. Clean clothes. Subway fare. Being in walking distance from a park because I need to get out of my apartment but I can’t take the subway. I get food stamps so I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat.

You also start to wonder what’s the point in doing anything. Nothing’s working. How do you keep moving forward when there’s darkness all around? It’s hard and unbelievably painful. Just sitting down to write is torture sometimes. I look at it this way- there’s a small chance something I’m doing will work. If I do nothing, things will stay the same.

After I got the court notice from my landlord, I didn’t feel like doing anything except wallow. Instead, I forced myself to get some work done. Wallowing would be saved for later. I applied for some jobs, made my social media rounds and updated my portfolio. It was painful but I focused on my goals. Later that day, I got an email from one of the jobs I applied for. They want to meet me! Darkness may be all around you but you need to focus on your goal. Storms always pass.