Have you ever been homeless? I have two times, but my story is a little different. This is a vulnerable story I chose to publish on LinkedIn.
What is a vulnerable story anyway? A vulnerable story is about telling your audience the struggles and obstacles you faced. It’s about baring your soul, being authentic and genuine, how the situation made you feel, and what you learned from it.
Have you seen people publish a vulnerable story on LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with over 875 million people?
I have seen people publish stories on LinkedIn about attempted suicides, drug and alcohol addiction, miscarriages, weight loss struggles, sexual assaults, social injustices, and much more.
Have I published any vulnerable stories on LinkedIn? Not yet, until I post this one. People may know me, but they really don’t know me. I also have more vulnerable stories for another time.
Today, I want to share the concept of “perspective” in light of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Perspective may vary by a person’s lived experiences, locale, and many other factors.
First, we all have physiological needs, including water, food, clothing, and shelter. In the United States, we can usually access clean tap water, get food from a food bank or receive food stamps. There are places to obtain free clothing There are domestic abuse and other types of shelters that may be available for short-term or HUD housing for a longer term.
Second, we have safety needs, including personal security and employment. We all want to feel safe, but we all should have the right to earn an income, whether chosen as self-employment or W-2 employment. If one has an income, one can pay for their physiological needs.
Third, we need love and belonging in a family, community, relationship, friendship, or other connections.
Fourth, we need esteem, which can come from self-esteem, status, recognition, freedom, and respect.
Finally, we need to strive for self-actualization to be the best version of ourselves.
So how does perspective play into physiological needs? Let’s start with water. Many African countries do not have potable water so imagine drinking brown water. Yuck!
Did you know that 19 of the poorest 20 countries in the world are in Africa? There are droughts, and without water to grow crops, there is no food. People, including children, are dying of starvation. Women are carrying babies on their backs, wearing the only clothes they own, sleeping in who knows what, and wondering where their next meal is coming from to feed their children. They lack resources.
In 1993, when I became homeless on weekends due to a court order during a divorce, I slept in a cheap motel until I could not afford that anymore and then slept in my car at the beach, where a public toilet was available. My family was 3,000 miles away so I had no place to go.
In 1994, when I moved from California back to Pennsylvania with my three and five-year-olds on 13 hours’ notice due to winning through an appellate court decision, I had no job. Luckily, I had shelter and applied for food stamps and a medical Access card, and resources were immediately available.
When I lost my house to fire in 2005, my girls and I could stay in a hotel covered by insurance. I became homeless but had alternate housing available to me. The sad thing was I had depreciated value insurance instead of replacement value, and it was financially devastating to begin again with absolutely nothing.
Fortunately, I had a K-12 teaching job at the time, so had some income, and the Tredyffrin/Easttown Girl Scouts came to my rescue with clothes and household goods. It sucked making the front page of the Suburban & Main Line Times with my fire.
However, I am blessed because I did not experience the same type of homelessness as someone in Burundi, the Central African Republic, DR Congo, Sudan, Somalia, and the like. It’s all about perspective.
Regarding safety needs, we should all have the right to earn an income. It was challenging for me to find a new flexible job in California with two toddlers while going through a divorce and no money available from a children’s father.
It sucked when my husband transferred money from all of the bank accounts and locked me out of the office where I earned an income from a general contracting business we built from scratch to $5 million a year, employing 24 employees.
I had to do what I had to do, so I cleaned houses for $10 an hour while the girls were in daycare.
When I landed in Pennsylvania with an unresolved divorce, I had to get a job that would work for me as a single parent. I returned to school to earn a teaching certification to be on the same schedule as my girls, and I applied for student loans.
My first teaching job paid $34,543 a year, a far cry from running a successful business in California. But, it was a new beginning for me because I was far away from an abusive alcoholic (who passed from leukemia in 2009 at 54).
So how does this all tie together? It’s perspective. When we are handed lemons, we need to find the best recipe for lemonade. There seem to be many resources available for basic needs, but we need to have an income from a job for safety, belonging, esteem, and more.
Many people are challenged to find a job because they can’t afford a career coach and don’t have their career documents in order. They also need to practice interviewing. Managing a career requires preparation; not everyone knows how to do that.
People with jobs and income can also donate to causes for basic needs. I believe that the oxygen mask needs to be put on the adult first. Start at the source, and help the job seeker.
How can you help? Donate to the Great Careers Groups for #GivingTuesday to help me sustain this 501(c)3 nonprofit to help others land their job so they can earn an income.
Consider your situation and perspective in light of others who have no income. Thank you!
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