I was 26 years old, living in Indianapolis, and thought I had life by the horns. I had a job that paid well, a new car and a nice house on the right side of town. Everything was going well for me. I had nothing holding me to where I was living, so I thought I’d take a risk. I applied for a job on a cruise ship.
What started in February 2007 as a quick set of phone interviews turned into a months-long wait and constant phone calls to the hiring agency. I had all but given up the chance to do something that not many people do. But in November, the phone rang. The hiring agency called and said they wanted me on a ship in two weeks. So I dropped everything, quit my job, leased my house, and joining a ship called the Vision of the Seas in Los Angeles, California in early December.
The time spent on the ship allowed me to see parts of the world I would never get the chance to visit otherwise. I explored cities in Western Mexico and nearly every island in the Caribbean. They were once in a lifetime experiences, but it wasn’t until I returned home that I had the most valuable journey.
When I returned home in June 2008, Indianapolis homeowners had been rocked by a shocking increase in property taxes. My $750 a month mortgage nearly doubled thanks to the reassessment. I had to get out from under it and appeal my assessment or sell the home. I couldn’t afford my payments. I was drowning.
That summer I worked a small overnight freelance graphic design job to make ends meet. When the job ended, I took a trip to visit friends in my old college town. While there, a woman I used to work with, whom I never thought had much respect for me, brought me in close and told me something I had ignored since returning home: I was unemployed. She pointed toward an office door and said, “Go in there and give him your resume. Tell him what you can do. I know we’re hiring.” So, I did just that. About two weeks later I moved to Evansville and had a job making nearly half (yes, half) my previous salary. But, I had a job.
I had to take drastic financial steps. That rosy picture I had when I was 26 faded away. I was 28 making barely $22,000. The housing market had crashed. My home was underwater and I had few options left. I was making far less than what I owed. But for me, having a job and health insurance was more important than having nothing at all.
In the end, I lost my house. I have a mark on my credit that will last for years. I can’t look people in the face when they ask me for my story because, honestly, it’s embarrassing. I failed.
I hope you can learn something from my failure. Here’s what I take from the whole situation:
If I wouldn’t have taken the cruise ship job, I would still be working in Indianapolis. I would never have gained the cross-cultural experiences and traveled to so many interesting places. I would never have traveled to Evansville, been told to walk into my future boss’ office, and eventually, been placed on a track that led to my current position. Now, seven years later, I’m working for CNN. It’s my dream company!
Never be afraid to fail. It could lead to some of the best successes of your life!