Live What You Preach: Maintaining Faith in my Move to Boulder
“When you have come to the edge Of all light that you know And are about to drop off into the darkness Of the unknown, Faith is knowing One of two things will happen: There will be something solid to stand on or You will be taught to fly.” – Patrick Overton
I’ll be honest: while I write about taking big risks and facing your fears, I have always had the luxury of financial security from my parents. After college, I moved home and worked from there, and in 2011, I moved to Korea as a contracted ESL teacher, a job that came with housing and a steady paycheck.
That doesn’t make what I write about any less valid. I’ve heard from many of my readers how they have taken my words to heart and faced up to challenges in their lives, making changes for the better despite great fear and risk.
But perhaps having never faced that particular rite of passage that is moving out on my own, my philosophy is missing the certainty of one who has been tempered by experience.
Well, now I’m being called to live up to my own advice in a very urgent way. Having moved to Boulder at the end of January with no more than a light bank account, I’ve been working frantically to find or make work for myself. Staring at a shrinking bank statement really drives home whether or not I have faith in what I write about.
Here is what I’ve learned so far:
Connections Matter, so Cultivate Them
The first thing I did when I got here was search for an apartment and a job. Luckily, I had a great friend who was willing to host me and drive me around. She knew the neighborhoods and all the prime locations. Without her, this whole thing would have fallen flat pretty quickly. She has also helped me look for work by giving me insight on the various companies and areas of Boulder.
The second week I was here, Boulder hosted an event called Co-working week, which was basically a giant networking event for all 6 of the co-working spaces in town. The week also included various workshops to help aspiring entrepreneurs. I was able to meet a lot of people who introduced me to relevant contacts and gave me a lot of support.
You Must Rely on Yourself for the Stuff That Matters
Despite the amazingly supportive community here, I have discovered that support only goes so far. Nobody offered me work. Nobody could refer me to someone needing a fitness coach or a writer. Ultimately, I need to be the one to find ways to leverage the new connections. I have to be the one to ask for something so propose a collaboration.
My life is, ultimately, in my own hands.
I don’t mean to suggest people haven’t been helpful. Some have put themselves at my disposal, but all the legwork and the mindwork is mine to do. This is only fair, but it can be a harsh reality when you’re stranded from your home, isolated in a strange community, and just need something to pay the bills so you don’t end up starving on the street in the winter Rockies…
The Big Battles Are Fought on the Inside, aka, Don’t Panic!
“You block your dream when you allow your fear to grow bigger than your faith.” – Mary Manin Morrissey
It’s hard to go out and promote myself, meet new people, and keep putting myself out there. But the hard part isn’t the doing, it’s maintaining faith.
There are days I just want to stay in my apartment (which I have at least until the end of March) and avoid facing the world. It would be easier to just say how unfair it is that I can’t find a job, that none of the dozens of applications I’ve put out have come to anything, and blame the world for my problems. There are millions of reasons to give up.
But that wouldn’t help me. The only option I have is to keep trying, to be persistent. Burying my head in the sand and whining about it being hard and unfair isn’t really productive, and it won’t get me out of this worrying situation of dwindling resources any sooner.
That fear has been looming quietly in the back of my head, and while I don’t really know how likely it is that I’ll truly end up broke, I know that succumbing to it and panicking is not the way to go. Only by keeping calm and maintaining faith will I figure something out. Each day, I tell myself that this day could be the day I find a job or land a client.
It’s been trying, but I am happy to say I’ve managed to keep my spirits up.
Take Care of Yourself
I’ve always been a strong believer that taking care of your health is a good way to make sure you are prepared to handle anything life throws at you. If you are healthy, you have the energy to chase down job leads or make your own work, and you have the toughness to sleep on the floor or bike all over town in the cold.
But I’m also learning that it is important to be aware of the mental and emotional trials that assail us, and to be gentle with yourself in those realms. Today, I ate a healthy but non-Khaled-approved meal, because I needed to let my guard down for a bit, just to know I could in this new environment.
Letting yourself sleep in or pampering yourself every now and then (in little, inexpensive ways) is really important when you’ve got no community and no family to help you out. I guess I could maintain strict nutritional and financial discipline, but it would put a lot of emotional strain on me at a time when I don’t have a support system to fall back on.
Focus on Giving, Then Ask for Help
There is a difference between begging and humbly asking for help. I can’t always say I’ve managed to avoid the former. There are days when I’m surrounded by people asking me what I do over and over, and I have trouble keeping my frustration in check. But I’ve met more success when I offer to contribute what I can to someone else’s project. I give what I can, and if I really look, I can always find room to give, something extra I can offer. Whether in the form of connections, knowledge, or simple labor, I have a lot to give, even without money.
Once I offer value, people are more likely to offer me help in return. This worked with my book, so I hope it will work in real life.
“Faith isn’t faith until it’s all you’re holding on to.” – Anon
While there hasn’t been any progress on the job front, lately I’ve felt a lot less anxious about things. I guess I am taking a wider perspective of things, and I do have a Plan B that doesn’t involve running back to my parents (that’s plan D).
If anyone has connections in Boulder or online that need the services of a reliable, clear writer, or who might be interested in practical movement coaching, please reach out.
Fight on, Brave Warriors!