3 Years and 4 Jobs
Written by Kristina Modares
Let’s be real...
I was raised in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia and I had a privileged upbringing. I went to private school and played on club sports teams. The people around me were very white and very conservative. My dad is Iranian, and I grew up thinking that was something I should be ashamed of because of the ignorant behavior I encountered. I remember cringing when my peers would ask me which college football team my dad preferred. I would pick a team at random, hoping that was the right answer. “Towel head” was a nickname I came to resent. In high school my friends made better grades and were seemingly more confident. I was the gangly girl who felt uncomfortable around new people and had trouble catching my breath at random--much later I found out that is called anxiety...oops. My parents went through a very crazy divorce in high school; one time I reached out to Dr. Phil about it and they got back to me within hours. I didn’t take college seriously. I choose a school that wasn’t the best environment for me, and I stayed even though I should have transferred. I created a codependent relationship with my boyfriend at the time and drank unhealthy amounts of alcohol.
TMI? Maybe, but I wanted to share a little bit of my background because I think it’s made me strong and forced me to leave my comfort zone early on. We tend to block out any trauma from our past, but I try to look back to see how much I’ve changed or stayed the same and how much I’ve learned.
When I graduated college that boyfriend I was clinging onto in Georgia, broke it off with me. I was devastated, but I had a fun backpacking trip planned. I spent the next 32 days walking the Camino de Santiago-- pretending that I wasn’t heartbroken and feeling freer than I ever had. Right after that trip, I decided I was going to leave Atlanta and explore a new city. A few weeks later, I packed up my tiny car and moved with no job or plan to Austin to join my college friend on a new adventure.
At the time, I didn’t share that I was miserable. I shared that I was in a cool new city, I was making friends and happy as a clam. The reality? I had no idea what I was doing, and it was terrifying. It took me three years and four jobs to find my career and get to a more stable stage of life.
Job #1: Circuit of the Americas. A sheep in a lion’s den.
After three weeks of job hunting and stressing out about having no money, I landed a job with the food and beverage company at the new Circuit of the Americas racetrack. How I WISH I had recorded my time at this crazy place. The amount of scandal I witnessed in this male-dominated work environment would be a great television drama show. I witnessed drug use, theft, sexual assault; it was an eye-opening experience. My first week of work, right before the track was expected to open, there was chaos around me. One day I accidentally stumbled into a board meeting while looking for my boss. A lady looked me in the eyes and said, “honey, you are a sheep in a lion’s den.” What she said got to me, and from then on, I tried to make myself appear tougher. I turned into somebody I was not proud of. Although I had good times at this job when I worked the concerts and races, the majority of the time I felt very small and unappreciated. I was underpaid and overworked. One day after three weeks with no time off, I opened the back door to our beverage teams van, and a case of wine fell out and spilled everywhere--I burst into tears and could not stop. I knew this was a problem and I needed to get out. Somehow I lasted two years at the track. My kind manager and getting my own golf cart were the only redeeming factors of this place, and after two years I gained the courage to quit. Again, I was with no job, but this time I had a better vision of how I wanted my life to be.
Job #2: Etsy Vintage Store. You can’t force a partnership.
At the end of my racetrack experience, I started to figure out that a life of entrepreneurship was the right path for me. Yet, I was scared to do something on my own and didn’t believe I was good enough at anything to start a business by myself. I convinced my friend that we should start an online clothing company. I saw her talent--she is a great designer! I figured my contribution could be dealing with the business side of selling clothing online. After a couple of months, I realized that my friend didn’t really want to start this business and we parted ways (Just as business partners, we are still great friends!). I was disappointed but determined to start a business. I had already added vintage clothing into our business model before my friend left and I decided I’d continue on my own. I created Nine89 Vintage and set up an Etsy shop.
The next three to four months were tough and fun, but I barely made enough money to pay my bills. At the time, I saw this as a loss. I was eating poorly to save money and renting out my room anytime I had a chance to. Now, I see this time for what it truly was, a tremendous learning opportunity and a stepping stone in the right direction. I was working out all the kinks, and through this, I learned that...I honestly don’t care much about fashion. This was not my niche.
Job #3: Assistant to Photographer. My boss is as confused as I am.
Etsy alone wasn’t cutting it--I needed more money, but I refused to apply to any desk jobs. I know I’m a stubborn person, but I’m proud of myself for knowing I would not thrive at a desk job. When my jobless self moved to Austin, my friend told me she could get me a front desk job at a hotel--as tempting as it was, I knew this would be a distraction from the life I was trying to lead. The racetrack may have been a crazy job experience, but it didn’t tie me to a desk from 9-5pm. I had some freedom. So, when I started job hunting again, I looked for unique opportunities. That’s how I ended up becoming the assistant to a boudoir photographer. I answered a craigslist ad for a photographer needing extra help with her business. I was to help with marketing, errands and anything else that popped up during the week. After a few weeks of working with this woman, I was confused. We’d have a meeting, and I’d write down marketing ideas and how I would implement them. Then the next day, she’d be taking a new direction, and the conversation would lack productivity. This went on for a couple of months until I decided the job wasn’t going anywhere. When I quit, I learned that my boss was 23 years old! I was 24 at the time. My frustration with my former boss turned into admiration. What a badass young woman--she realized she was a creative type who needed someone to help structure her business. I was not ready for that role. She was just like me, trying to figure it all out.
By this time I was at the peak of my “self-development book reading” phase. I was reading books like Rich Dad-Poor Dad, The 4 Hour Work Week and How to Win Friends and Influence People. I was consistently listening to podcasts like The Tim Ferriss Show, BiggerPockets and The Art of Charm. I started making goals, getting organized and thinking hard about how to get what I wanted in life. I “eased” into the morning person I am today and stopped going out all the time. I realized that I wanted to create a life of financial freedom. I wanted to invest in people who were passionate about projects but needed money to pursue their dreams further. I wanted to create a healthy family and a strong community around me. I wanted to travel. I didn’t want to stress out about money all the time. I did a lot of deep thinking, and I knew my next path had to be real estate. I planned to invest in real estate to create the life I had envisioned.
Job #4: Realtor Assistant by day, venue manager/wedding coordinator by night.
My friend introduced me to a realtor who owned a wedding venue and needed administrative help with his real estate business and the venue. It seemed like the perfect fit because of my background in events. The plan was to learn as much as I could about real estate, take my real estate test and become a realtor on his team. I wanted to help first-time buyers like me get the right knowledge to buy a house. Throughout my random jobs after college, I was always trying to find ways to buy a house. I quickly realized the struggles of buying a home if you don’t have a salary job; something I’ve never had. I wasn’t getting the leadership I needed to thrive at my position, so after a year I stopped working with the realtor, his brokerage, and his wedding venue and switched to a career at Reilly Realtors. It was a scary decision to join a new brokerage because I was pretty much on my own; creating my own systems, finding all my own clients and doing the majority of my marketing. Trying to find clients in a state I didn’t grow up in. It was overwhelming but now that I’m working in an environment that’s supportive and in a career that’s right for me now. I feel aligned...for now!
The reason I’m laying this all out for you is because we tend to forget that life is messy and that's ok. Life is filled with highs and lows, and that’s normal. Social media will show us the “highs” and make even the “lows” look like “highs.” It’s all confusing and depressing. We need to remember that everyone has a battle they are fighting, and that’s part of life.
I’m currently in a “high” stage of life (although let's be real, it still feels like a rollercoaster ride of emotion at times). I have wonderful relationships with my friends and my boyfriend. Therapy and meditation help with my anxiety. I’m successful in my career and investments. And I’m trying to ride this high out as long as I can. Yet, I know that the “low” is part of life and I’m sure it’s around the corner.
Kristina is a Realtor, real estate investor, meticulous self-learner, and a traveler. She focuses on helping her clients see the value in diversifying their investments through real estate and educating first-time homebuyers and sellers. She created HowToBuyaHouseInAustin.com and wrote a book on buying a house in Austin for first-time buyers. You can find her on Instagram at @AllhomesATXor @Kmodares.