From Breakdown to Breakthrough

Losing it, helped me find it.

Ashley Cottrell
Jun 9, 2017 · 5 min read

“I think it’s time you looked for another job,” he stated blatantly.

No sugarcoated speech. No pep-talk. No warning.

I had to go.

My internship caused about 80% of the panic attacks I had that year, and although I had already planned to quit, being forced to was a jab to the stomach that I didn’t see coming. It was. . .over. Eight months of overtime, short breaks, and (literal) tears ended with an indirect “you’re fired.” I wasn’t sure if you could technically get fired from an internship, but the end result was the same.

No job.

No income.

No stability.

I had brought myself to walking out of that office with my head held high, a grin on my face, and a strut in my step….at least until I made it to the car. That drive, however, was the exact opposite. I attended the three funerals earlier that same year, and somehow held it together, but after this, a meltdown.

This doesn’t happen to me. I’m diligent. I’m responsible. Why is this happening?

I was 24, almost three years out of college, jumping from one internship to the next. Law firm internship, magazine internship, and now advertising internship, which ended. My goal was to become a writer, no matter what field, yet, nothing was satisfying. I figured I’d put my all into advertising since that’s where the money was, but apparently, my all wasn’t enough.

My all wasn’t enough.

So, I did what every other straight-outta-college, struggling, ‘quarter-life crisis’ adult would do: hustled (but legally). I found myself babysitting, constantly braiding hair and building clientele, and selling all of my old clothes. I’d succumbed to filing for unemployment, something I’d never done nor ever expected to do in life, and realized that (as I’ve heard through the grapevine) it wasn’t enough. My last resort was dipping into my savings account, the “only touch if dying or stranded” money that equaled to about three months rent. Mind you, I was applying for jobs left and right, but had no callbacks. No one was hiring. And those that were, found a kind way of explaining I was either overqualified, or not what they were looking for. I eventually received a call-back from a local magazine, made it through two interviews, but was turned down.

Talk about crushed.

My biggest nightmare had become a reality and, for about four months, was my lifestyle…and I didn’t tell a soul. I couldn’t. I wouldn’t. I was determined not to be treated as a charity case.

God. . . when is my breakthrough? This is more like a breakdown. Is this a test of my faith? If so, haven’t I proven myself faithful already? I need a real job. I have bills to pay. Tell me something!

I found myself frustrated with God, frustrated with myself, and too exhausted to do anything else. Yet, in the midst of silence, I believe I heard God loud and clear.

I had too much pride.

I was fully dependent on myself. So, that evening, I knelt down on my bedroom floor with clenched fists, teary eyes, open Bible, and cried out to God to open a door I knew only He could do. I had about $80 to my name after paying all of my bills that month and still needed to pay next month’s rent. It wasn’t my college degree, my skills, my references, nor my extraordinary ability to save money (although it did help) that would do it. I knew I couldn’t call myself a godly woman and not believe in a miracle.

And it came…back to back. That very next day, I received word from a family member (who didn’t know my situation), that I had money left for me from a deceased relative. Assuming it wasn’t a lot, was thankful for anything and told them to send whatever it was. When it came, I discovered it was enough to cover my next month’s rent.

A few days later, a temp agency I had applied through had found me a full-time position within close proximity of my home, which saved me both gas and mileage on my car. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but I still showed up everyday with a smile on face, thankful.

I finally found the time to relax and the motivation to write, both of which I hadn’t had at all that year, and more importantly, read my Bible. Spending time with God went from casual, to my priority.

And then, it happened.

A job opened up. And not just any job. . . my dream job: copywriting. They were looking for a slightly experienced, word-guru who was willing to learn. They were looking for me.

They were looking for me.

I applied, and needless to say, I was hired. It was part time, but hey, by that time I’d learned how to live off of almost nothing. I said goodbye to the temp job, and proudly accepted my new position. My company eventually moved me up to full time, and a year later, I’d received so much experience and growth.

Hindsight, I somehow knew that if I saw the part time position a year prior, I would’ve ignored it. I would’ve been too prideful, and afraid, to step down to a lower-paying position. But now, I’m boldly stepping out of my comfort zone every chance I get, especially within my writing.

So, I say all this to say, not just one thing, but many: be humble, never give up, have faith, strive, work hard, endure, pray more, and make time to do what you love to do. (And if you need something written, let me know!)

**originally published on my website:

If you enjoyed reading my journey, I’d love for you to click that little heart below, and share with someone else who needs a little encouraging.

Ashley Cottrell

Written by

Copywriter by day, creative insomniac by night.

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