Big life update. I haven’t quit van life, but I am on a break with my girlfriend and our two dogs in Rockford, IL for the next few months. This move came abruptly after a lot of ideas about how to live after van life – on a beach, on the road, the list of options goes on. It’s admittedly harder to just pick one place to be all the time when you know the joy of beautiful destinations each week. We weighed a lot of options and decided that our first stop would be a short term rental to enjoy the warm days and cool nights of the Midwest in summer. My person is from this area and has a community of humans I love.
It turns out, those beautiful destinations just never beat having the warmth of great people around. That’s what led me to Selma, NC, too. So, in celebration of our temporary time in this happy place, we decided to host a dinner party. Just a few friends, strong drinks, and most importantly – amazing food. Look, if you’re coming to my house? You’re going to eat well. Promise.
Water shot out of my sink like a water gun as we started to prepare food just two hours before that small dinner party for 5. In true form, I immediately shut down. I was ready to cancel it all. Van life did not prepare me for big house plumbing issues. My girlfriend, on the other hand, has more of a “the show must go on” attitude. After convincing me it would be ok, she took over. In a matter of an hour, she cleaned the entire place while I walked the block asking myself why this had to happen. Why now?
After everyone arrived, we filled our plates and sat around the table talking. I felt this overwhelming feeling that it was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was witnessing something beautiful. Something I’d want to remember. In response to a particularly hilarious dating story, one of our guests said the thing most of us do to console someone when crazy shit happens in succession: “Everything happens for a reason.”
To my surprise, she responded “I don’t think so.”
She has a point. There’s some bad shit in this world that’s hard to explain away with divine purpose or a greater destination. People die. Some experience trauma that alters their lives. I read about tragedies every day that make it really hard to believe there’s some divine purpose for all this pain. The more I thought about it, the more I don’t believe everything happens for a reason either.
I do believe there’s divinity in the healing process. There’s purpose in the things we learn as we grow out of deep pain. Our souls evolve into someone more beautiful than we ever imagined. The work we do in the minutes and moments from that day forward fundamentally change how we live. We have to stop giving so much credit to the bad shit that happens for all that beauty. As much as that big bad thing might begin a process, it is one moment in a series of days, weeks, months and even years of healing.
Those baby steps never feel fast enough for me. I see it in my book of stories from van life (coming out Sept 25, 2023!). That lifestyle forced me to focus on healing the parts of me that thought everything had to be planned and done with purpose. It forced me to let go of control. In this new chapter, I’m learning what it feels like to shed those stories. Even if water is coming up through the sewer, I find myself a little more free to enjoy the moments figuring it out. To stop giving so much credit to the bad things and to celebrate the healing process with people I love.
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.