The last few weeks of van life have been utterly unpredictable across this leg of my trip, heading from Florida to Texas. The first 90 days seem easy after this week. From a hotel room that smelled like syrup to tornadoes and a campsite that caught on fire, I’ve been testing my bounce back factor constantly. I’m getting pretty good at starting over.
And over. And over.
All of these mishaps added up to a few days and late nights crossing Texas that I certainly didn’t expect, then a Sunday night in Austin. I was extra appreciative for the hotel room I booked weeks before, a haven while I speak at a virtual conference and do a team job post writing training this week.
After a few hours in traffic, I pulled up to the hotel. I felt relief. I’m always a little nervous to see what the parking situation looks like when I’m driving a very tall, very wide van – especially in a major city. As I drove through the empty parking lot to the back, I took a right at the dumpster. I noticed a bright green bike leaning against the door. Then movement. It was a person digging through the trash.
My mind started to swirl. What if someone breaks into my van? After a moment of pondering, I thought, “well, as long as someone doesn’t steal the actual van itself, I’ll be fine.” This is progress for me. I thought everything was important a few months ago when I tried to narrow 1200 sq ft down to 80. So I locked up, made sure the window covers were set and parked where I could see my home on wheels from the window.
I was startled when I heard a banging noise coming from the dumpster later that night. After my week of unexpected chaos, it couldn’t be good. I didn’t even want to know what I would see when I pulled back the curtain.
But of course, I looked. It wasn’t what I expected.
Standing outside the dumpster were 3 generations of a family with cases of water. One by one, they stacked each one around the dumpster. At first I was confused. Why were they trying to throw away cases of water? Why did they bring the whole family?
Then it hit me. They were doing what’s right. Together, they were doing what all of us should do when we see someone digging in a dumpster – give them something worth finding like food or water.
As much as I’ve seen the worst of America, I’ve also seen the best parts of people’s hearts. The little moments no one posts about on Instagram. The kindness and love between humans simply because they exist. How we can show up when things are hard – even for strangers. That’s the most beautiful part – this butterfly effect.
Often I talk to people (myself included) who are so worried about doing the wrong thing. That this one “no,” this one misstep, this choice could be the one that ruins our lives. It leads us to march into this world so worried about ourselves that we can barely look up to see what’s beautiful. It makes us feel fear when we see someone who has had an unpredictable life instead of ask how we can help.
But what I wish we would do, what I wish I can do going forward, is apply extreme amounts of love.
Love allows us to admit that life is unpredictable for everyone, not just someone who lives in a van. I can allow the unpredictable nature of life to be true for others without judgment, no matter their path to the road, and without fear. It’s our responsibility to help, even in the smallest ways.
I want to live in a world where people, myself included, see homelessness in their community and show up with supplies to help instead of judgement and self-preservation. Where we don’t avert our eyes from a dire lack of resources. Where we stand up and do something – whatever we can for people just because they exist.
So this week, let’s approach things with kindness and compassion. When you feel scared, second guess it. Ask yourself what you could do to help. Whether it’s water or a check in call to an old friend, show up. Flap your wings.
The way I think I can help the most is by telling other people what I didn’t know about the job search so they can find careers that make them feel whole. That’s why this week’s blog is about those things with an invitation for you (and everyone you know) to join me at a 1 hour webinar on job search tactics I wish I knew before I ever looked for a job.
We all have to look for jobs and no one will teach you how. There’s no book on how job titles are different at every company or how to read through the buzzwords in a job posting. I want to cover that in this 1 hour session plus a few more things I know can help anyone at any age find a job. Details are in the post.
Yes, you can invite a friend. Yes you can share this. Please share it with everyone you know!
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.