When Shit Gets Real, Survive

Adapt. This is key. It’ll open the door to the way out of the situation. If you read my most recent post So You Want to be an Entrepreneur you will recall me mentioning having lived out of my car. This goes way back, to the beginnings of my time in the workforce. The year is 2008 and after 8 years in office, George W. Bush, Jr.’s administration and the banks have ruined our economy for personal gain. The stock market is crashing, houses are being foreclosed and cars are being repossessed. The American Dream is dead. Come early 2009 people have all been laid off and guess what, the bills are due.

At the time, I was working for an oil and gas company in Colorado as a Well Planner Engineer. I was 19 years old in 2008. I got this job by working down the street from their facility at Wal-Mart in overnight soft-lines processing. After my shift, I would show up at their offices in the early morning as they opened. I made it clear that I was hungry for the opportunity and eventually got one after less than a month. Long story short, 6 months later I was out on my ass along with the rest of the country. I took my new car, a 2008 Infiniti G35 coupe, and drove out to Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. This was a place the industry would later move to, but hadn’t arrived yet. Timing is everything.

I spent two weeks hitting the pavement, driving out to New Brunswick, New Jersey looking for work. Unfortunately, the economy was worse off in the Northeast than it was in Colorado. Things were difficult, but I was hungry. I leveraged my support network and after two weeks of sleeping in that car at the Johnson & Johnson park, I drove down to Virginia where I had family. I spent an additional two weeks there looking for work and ended up giving in to the inevitable. In one 24 hour drive, I made it back home to the place I never wished to return. This was the beginning of the much needed shift in my mindset. One shouldn’t expect people to give you opportunities, you make them yourself.

Eventually, after 6 months of unemployment, I found work at Texas A&M University – Kingsville for a Title V Federal grants program. This will be a whole other story as it deserves some critique on its own. Long story short, it taught me a lot about how higher education functions and the incredible amount of issues and politics that exist within. If it weren’t for student loan debt, these institutions would have imploded a long time ago. This plays back into the whole idea of giving more than you take and not taking more than you give. One shouldn’t use government policy as a means to keeping the boat afloat. It’s simply bad practice. Moving along, after 3 years, turmoil at the top arises and the bosses are let go so the powers that be can pillage the coffers. Knowing well enough that this is a sign to abandon ship, I resign.

This departure begins my entrepreneurial journey, and there are many smaller instances of disaster that occur up to the COVID-19 catastrophe. The biggest, and most important, is that my mother has a massive stroke on August 3, 2017 in the OR at Bay Area in Corpus Christi, Texas. My world is shaken to its core and everything I knew and valued is uprooted. She is without healthcare insurance and those who are aware, means you don’t matter in the United States. You won’t receive adequate rehabilitation and you’ll be cast aside to decay in a long term care facility. This was truly unacceptable to me for my mother, whom raised me through turbulent times of her own, to be disregarded. I fought tooth and nail for her recovery. It is times like these when you’re pushing up against a massive system designed to place barriers in your path that you learn what your true grit is.

The important lesson here is that you adapt. Difficult times will be upon us all and in situations like COVID-19, we’re all in this boat together. You’ll find yourself surrounded by people who care about your well being and if they’re in a position to, will offer their support. Don’t let the stress of a situation overwhelm you into submission. Take a moment to fall to the floor, cry, let it out, then get back on your feet. Make a list of what needs to be dealt with and paint a full picture of your situation, finances and health alike. Begin identifying pathways to drawing down on negative cashflow and prioritize whats important. Life is full of ups and downs but push back hard and you’ll eventually find your way out of it.

 

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

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