I like to talk with people wherever I go. Sometimes I ask questions, other times people just open up to me. I love hearing their stories.
A few weeks ago I was speaking at an alternative school about stuff I have in my book. This school serves kids that have had some problems, addiction, grades, legal or whatever. After my talk a young girl came up to me and sat down like she wanted to talk, so I listened.
Her story tore me apart and I am not a bleeding heart. She was 18, had a 1 1/2 year old child and was living with her boyfriend who was a convicted felon and couldn’t find a job so she was supporting him. Her mom, a 2 time alcoholic treatment failure was moving in with the girl along with her unemployed boyfriend. Her father would have little to do with her. All I could do was listen, as she tearfully told me all this. I wished I could have done more.
Later I met a middle aged woman who told me her story. She had been a single parent, (later remarried) raised 2 kids and put then both to college. She had a good job, no college, just started at the bottom of a startup business and worked her way up. She also does house sitting, walks dogs, and I’d bet about anything she has to do to survive and pay for her kids educations, morally of course. She clearly was a survivor and seems very happy that she is. She also is clearly a hard worker and opportunist.
So…. I wonder how she got that way and if the first girl can do it too. Is being a survivor something in our genes or can it be learned? From what the first girl told me I think she is on the right track, she has a job or two and has some goals for what she wants to do. The school she is in, and more specifically the class I talked with, focuses on these kids and works on teaching them how to make a living, manage money and get jobs. For her sake I hope it works out for her.
One thing I noticed with the other woman is that she seemed eager to get more work, even when she talked with me. She floated the idea of house sitting which I caught as an offer to do that for me, something I may consider. I think that was one of her keys to success, being on the lookout for work with everyone she meets,
I am looking for ways to help both young people and older ones who are really interested in surviving on their own. I’d like to believe it can be taught, especially some basic concepts that some don’t seem to understand.
The first is to be others centered. Sounds altruistic, but it woks. Finding out about other people, what they do, if they know of any jobs, or how you can help them is a good start. When people learn you are interested in doing something for others they may respond with something you can do for them or someone else. It also removes the temptation of a pity party that any single mom can fall into.
Second, networking is something we can do all the time. It has come to be a catch phrase for job seekers only, but is the best way for us to get our services to market that we have. While it may be fun to talk about sports, concerts or the kids, it can be equally fun to talk about work and opportunities that are out there for various skills. All it takes is a little conscious effort to find it; it may be there where least expected!