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When DTC offered the dream to Charlie, our family moved to Columbia, S.C. Leaving friends and family behind was hard but leaving my old “job” was not a tough choice. Despite the friends and experience I had gained there, it was never my dream.
Most jobs are an exchange between an employer and a worker. In some cases this exchange is skills or talent in return for money. In other cases this exchange is time, simply being here, in return for money.
Since going to work for DTC in 2003 Charlie has not needed a resume. Discount Tire made the vision very easy to see. Then Charlie worked very hard to achieve it. It hasn't been a job for him. It's been a career from the beginning.
In January of 2005, after finishing my master’s in English and moving from Charlotte to Easley, I had a job as a writing lab tutor for a University. I sat in a room waiting for students to bring me their term papers. No one ever came. I readAnna Karenina and How to Make Love Like a Porn Star (the latter of which was better). I got paid $19/hour to sit and read.
At the same time I worked as a dispatch agent for a gas line locating company. I watched the email inbox all day waiting for emergency tickets and then called the locators with them. I read It’s Not About the Bike and The Kite Runner. The former of which was better.
Certainly my most recent job was more constructive than those 2005 jobs. I learned a lot and remain grateful for the friends and experiences I had there. But it was still just a job. It was still the exchange of something I had for a paycheck. They said it was my talent, but really it was my time. And all the time I was giving it, I couldn't help but feel like it was the most precious thing I had to give.
Find a Better Way
As it turns out, 30% of American workers are contingent: free agents, freelancers, contractors, consultants. That statistic may be a result of so many skilled workers having been tossed out of traditional companies in 2008 and 2009. But I think it’s also associated with Generation Flux.
The most important thing I’ve learned recently is that I have to earn the opportunity but then take what I want. No one is sitting around waiting to hand it to me. No matter how good I was at the job they paid me for.
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I have a lot to give and am more than willing to exchange what I have to give for a paycheck. But my career is not what happened while I was making other plans. Opportunities presented and I had the skills to take them. Or the guts, anyway, per my friend Lauri.
Make the most of it
Get busy building your dream or someone will hire you to build his. Eight years ago Charlie asked me to help build his. It’s ours, really. The Dream is alive in the Carolinas. We have been dedicated participants since we first met this amazing company. Thanks, DTC!
Additionally, though, we have another dream. It includes me completing the PhD, writing all these short stories and novels, speaking, researching, consulting, publishing. We call it Kasie's Autonomy. The vision is getting clearer these days. I earned this opportunity now I just have to take it.
Autonomy is about choices and when given the choice, I write. It’s what I do. Some people pay me for it, but it never feels like a job.