It’s the unexpected in life that keeps us hungry and humble. Returning to Tampa, and being happy about it, certainly falls into that category. I was so desperate to leave that I hardly imagined I would miss it. Post-MBA, I am now in the job-seekers pool that on Monday seems infinite and on Tuesday, utterly conquerable.
After a compressed end of 2016, including graduation and the holidays, 2017 began by stretching out in front of me with no particular advancement in sight. The old me would have wrung my hands and fretted. But the weather has been so nice, and I couldn’t help but relax, enjoy a slowed pace, and adopt a thoughtful strategy of attack.
Almost without lifting but my wrist to maneuver the mouse, I found two part-time gigs—consulting, ahem, now that I have an MBA—that pay for my (new) T-Mobile phone and (ACA) health insurance. One is managing the social media presences for a friend and the proprietor of Uncommon Finds, a fine fragrance boutique in Downtown Tampa. I covered the opening in 2015 here.
That same week, Giuseppe Conti, my boss from the MBA internship last summer and founder of Conti Advanced Business Learning (CABL), asked if I would be willing to continue writing for him. Apparently my negotiation articles have made him the most viewed of all his ~5,700 colleagues at Merck Pharmaceutical.
Both of these roles have given me some freedom, to structure and unstructure my time as I wish, and to not be so desperate for a job.
Then, yet another friend and small business owner asked if I would create and populate her business Pinterest page, for which she had no time or attention to devote. Get paid to pin?! Duh!
Otherwise, the days and weeks have taken on a perhaps too comfortable rhythm. While I am merely underemployed, I live with my very much retired father, and we have a curiously similar routine. Sleep in until mid morning, share his Volvo to run errands or attend lunches and coffee dates, exercise in the afternoon (he walks, I attend the Y-M-C-A), and then finally get down to productivity late afternoon and into the evening. That is, if I don’t have plans.
While I try to be productive, he consumes PBS Newshour intently and with vitriol for Trump, which evolves into Netflix or Amazon Video after eight.
The weather has made a huge difference in my mood, and I reentered Tampa at the height of snowbird season. “Winter” is equivalent to the occasional gust and chilly evening breeze, and most days afford us crystalline air clarity. We’re talking 60s at night, not 30s, but from time to time, 80s during the day. For someone with (apparently) high susceptibility to seasonal depression, it was like rebirth, coming from cold, gray, and damp, to this.
Of course, being back around my friends has been cathartic too. Life changed in my absence, so the dynamics aren’t identical to before, but it feels like we’ve all matured and prospered and found successes.
The consulting projects and catch-up lunches are, if I’m honest with myself, simply an enjoyable distraction from the elephant in my life: figuring out what is next, like another major move or a shiny new job. The search has slowed considerably, now that my immediate situation isn’t so anxious, but I tell myself it’s more quality now than quantity.
This time has also been beneficial, because I am able to think about what I do and don’t want. Like: skepticism about living in Manhattan, which for all its glamorous awesomeness, would be hard for this newcomer, peace-and-quiet lover to adjust to. I discussed via Skype doing an internship with Cartier to get my foot in the door there, but couldn’t bring myself to pursue it. I just feel too old to play that game, run in that race.
The new concept is somewhere more temperate and less crowded, like Miami, or Sydney.
In the wise words of many before me, the journey is often as important (or more) than the destination, and so it has been fulfilling to explore my connections rooted in Tampa, and spend time with my family, whom I haven’t seen much of. I am introverted and love my space and alone time, but I am deeply considerate of my relationships too.
In short, I am secretly loving this interstitial time in my life. I feel like a lucky househusband, taking care of my dad, buying our groceries and stopping by the post office to mail out Valentine’s cards to my MBA friends. And, exercising more, eating better. Seeing my therapist and making vision boards. Tinkering with the idea of entrepreneurship, something I have always done in one form or another.
I still crave that entrée to the luxury world, but my interests have become more refined, and I am still optimistic about my future. Whereas the role is less critical to me, it is the employer I am more critical of now: Who is the leader and what is the culture? How are employees treated? Is the company moving toward an ethos of social responsibility and sustainability, or is it business as usual? Is it money above all else, and how nimbly can the corporate structure adapt?
In fact, I would love to get luxury experience indirectly, like through one of the many newish start-ups that have changed the face of online second-hand fashion. (See my previous post for details!) It would make sense, anyway, given that I’ve always gravitated toward and been suited for work in fledgling environments.