You Can’t Always Get What You Want (3)
This post was originally written and published on September 24th, 2019. It details events, experiences, and reflections as an unemployed person taking place between mid 2016 and early 2017.
It appears that having a 2-year time gap between blog posts is an inevitable reality for me. Hopefully, I can write more blog posts as things get ramping up in my life.
Last time I posted, I had decided to quit my jobs as a hotel audio visual technician and television production assistant. I was pretty convinced that I was making the greatest decision of my life and for a time, it was.
My journey started off spectacularly. I matriculated into a postgraduate certificate program in computer information systems at Indiana University Northwest and had also begun an online Deep Learning program offered through Udacity. Engaging in these certifications seemed like the best way to get started and I was genuinely enjoying learning calculus, linear algebra, and Python programming.
The greatest sign that my life was turning around was with my opportunity to visit Japan in October 2017 in order to be the best man at my best friend’s wedding. I got to visit the endless city skylines of Tokyo, ride on a bullet train, pray at a Shinto temple, and check out the mountainous interiors of the country. This was my first experience going outside of the United States and it opened my eyes to possibilities outside of my homeland.
I was so proud of myself because for the first time ever, I was making plans, executing on those plans, and genuinely taking control of my own life. Upon returning from Japan, I was brimming with unbridled optimism that I would find a new job that would make me feel whole and get me started on my desired career path.
Or so I thought.
Little by little, everything seemed to unfurl. It turned out that I was not eligible for student loans for my computer information systems program despite being told that I would be eligible. This made it impossible for me to pay my tuition out of pocket. Surprise costs from Udacity and Amazon Web Services midway through forced me to drop out of the program to avoid fees accumulated from using its cloud services. The final nail in the coffin was the cost of the round-trip ticket to Tokyo which massively wore down my savings account. At this point, it had become clear that my preparation wasn’t as good as I thought it was. Worse yet, I did not have a strong enough backup plan for when everything fell about as spectacularly as it did. Feeling the sting of low funds and mounting bills, I started applying for entry level jobs to help alleviate the cost of living.
But then one month passed.
Seven months went by that I spent unemployed. I tried my best to stay motivated with little projects in data science and readings on Cognitive Science, but my passion began to wane as the winter months began to settle in. Everyday became a depressing romp through Indeed.com and other career boards for entry-level positions that would never call me back. As the funds I saved up started to dwindle, my opportunities to feed myself properly, exercise, and just get outside among other people lessened and I started to fall into a deep depression. I had slowly become that guy that lived in his parent’s basement who failed to maintain his hygiene and spent way too much time on the internet. Things kept getting darker and darker for me emotionally until I didn’t want to get up in the morning anymore, eat food, or socialize with my family and friends. I felt like a failure.
But when I was at my lowest point, I received an unexpected email from an unlikely place.
Way back in September 2017, I had applied for a volunteer position with the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. My thought process was that volunteering at the museum would give my resume some leverage to potentially find work as a receptionist or some other entry level position at a local university or community college. By the time February 2018 had rolled around, I had all but given up hope on both the Field Museum, my future goals, and even my own sense of personal value. Therefore, I could not believe that after 7 grueling months of isolation and depression that the single most perfect opportunity would fall right into my lap when I least expected it and put me back on the path.
Unfortunately, paths in life are rarely ever straight lines. Paths are much more squiggly — with a ton of side streets, detours, and dead ends. While the Field Museum did put me back on the path, but I had to take a bit of a detour first.