3 Things I’ve Re-learned These Past 6 Months

Mary Scotton
4 min readJan 1, 2023

[Note: it wasn’t THESE past 6 months, it was September 2020 — March 2021. When we were all deep in the pandemic and I was job-hunting. I’m coming back to Medium to write again and just found this in my Drafts … maybe I wandered off to a job interview and never come back?]

Since September 1, 2020, it’s been my full-time job to find a new job. Reflecting on this 6-month marker, I realize I’ve re-learned 3 lessons the universe taught me during another sabbatical experience: when I lived and traveled in South America for 6 months in 2012.

Side view of a white and brown llama eating a leaf.
A llama having a snack.

Hands down, I would choose the 6 months in South America if I had to do it all over again, but the lessons run parallel. I’m hoping you’ll find a nugget that helps you on your journey, whatever and wherever it is.

1. Your family is your basecamp

“You’ll do well on your trip because you three are your own unit,” a friend, 2012.

Me, my wife, and our son (mini-me, age 5) were a tight-knit family in 2012. We loved each other fiercely, laughed at each other's jokes, and danced a lot. When we packed our backpacks, hopped on a plane, and traveled to Ecuador, Argentina, Chile, and Peru, I wasn’t sure how it would go — just the 3 of us, together. All. The. Time. (sound familiar…?) It wasn’t all roses and rainbows — but then neither is “real life” — but our foundation of love and fun made the trip one big adventure.

We are still a tight-knit family, which has made all the difference during the pandemic and especially these last 6 months. My wife and son have supported me emotionally (“You’ve got this!” — my wife before every interview) and practically (“If you need help asking for feedback for that job you didn’t get, here’s what we learned at school…” — my son, now in 8th grade), and I know they’ve always got my back, even though we’re trapped in this house together and Just Want to Go Somewhere Else.

2. Your true friends will be there for you

“We’re leaving for 6 months, but we’ll be back,” us, 2012.

While we were in South America, some people fell off, but others stayed connected — sending email and leaving comments on our travel blog — and we picked up where we left off when we returned.

These past 6 months, I’ve been humbled by the true friends who’ve had my back, critiquing my website, helping me prep for interviews, and offering me contracting work. (Thank you!!!) I’ve also reconnected with my long-distance friends. (Hiii!!!) When things return to “normal”, I hope I remember that this device in my hand is not just for doom-scrolling, it also makes phone calls.

3. Your community is key to making connections

“Your reservation/job has been canceled,” 2012/2020.

In South America, we lived in a house in each country for a full month. This gave us time to get to know the people and the area. In each town, we found community, and Lago Puelo, Argentina stands out the most. Ironically, we hadn’t planned to go to Lago Puelo, but the farm stay we’d booked canceled on us at the last minute. Sometimes things work out better when they don’t work out!

With no place to stay when we landed, we booked a hotel room and contacted our son’s preschool teacher, who grew up in Argentina. She connected us with her cousin who connected us with a friend who connected us with another friend with a house for rent walking distance from his house (close enough to carry a sleeping 5-year-old to a dinner that starts at 10pm!). He welcomed us into the community with a standing invite to his weekly Pizza Night dinner — where we met a local business owner whose mom had a farm and yes, she’d welcome our free labor. I’ve never had so much fun weeding strawberry beds and picking raspberries and we’re still in touch with her family!

These past six months, my community connections have been the key to my job searching (and my mental health). I call my method “intentionally organic” and the outcome feels a bit like the “eclectic garage sale” aesthetic I had in my apartments post-college: random inspirations from various parts of my life! I haven’t landed a job yet, but with the lessons learned from Lago Puelo, I’m trusting the process.

How it works: I’ll see a LinkedIn post or a tweet, read an article, listen to a podcast, watch a webinar, or randomly think of someone, and I’ll reach out for “virtual coffee”. We’ll catch up, chat about whatever sparked my call and about what they’re doing now. That leads to “you should check out company xyz / talk to person abc”, which leads to me applying for a job or inviting someone else to virtual coffee. Repeat. (and repeat, and repeat again!)

What about the next 6 months?

I’m taking these lessons with me as I embark on the next phase in my journey. I hope to share what else I learn with you’all here, and I hope that you’ll share what you’re learning, too. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that it’s the people, not the place, that makes life an adventure. So, from my home to yours, happy travels and let’s have coffee soon!

[I did eventually land a new job, after another 6 months. I’m still a fan of virtual coffee, and invite you to reach out — you never now where it might lead!]



Mary Scotton

Technology industry leader, evangelist, and connector who cultivates inclusive communities. She/her. maryscotton.com