Personal : 9 Years Ago this Week I Lost My Job

9 Years ago this week I lost my job. It was June 13, 2008, and I called my Dad crying on the way home from work. I was a statistic. The economy was terrible and I wasn’t the only one that lost my job that year.

So many thoughts went through my head… How am I going to pay rent? How am I going to pay the new car I just leased? How am I going to eat? I was so scared. Also, I felt like a failure. I know it wasn’t my fault… I just graduated college in 2004 and the plan was to get a job (check) work hard until you can get a better job (check) losing my job was not in the plan. If you didn’t know already I am a huge planner.

I remember heading to the park across the street from my house and thinking “How am I going to do this?” I went into survival mode. I filed for unemployment which wasn’t covering much of what I needed but it was better than nothing. If I could choose a dream job, it was going to be to travel around the world, take pictures, and find a way to make a living out of it. This was my mission statement and my goal. If you have ever read the book “The Secret” you have to put what you want out into the universe.  

A friend told me about Etsy but I didn’t know what I was going to sell and how it worked. I started taking photos around Chicago. I always say 2009 was my year of learning. I am self-taught with photography and with Etsy and I had to find my niche and pricing. 

That first Summer I spent every weekend at the Farmers Market selling my artwork. I would pack the car at 5 am and head off to Wilmette to set up my tent. It was $75 for 7am – 2pm. It was exhausting but it was so fun to meet people in person. I hugged the first person that bought my work. It was so validating to know that someone outside my family thought my work was good enough to hang on their walls. I still hug a lot of my customers to this day! 

In 2010, I booked a trip to Paris on airline miles and babysitting money. I was picking up Nanny jobs to help cover my costs. It was a huge risk. I remember feeling like I had no money and I am pretty sure my family was shocked that I was even thinking about going to Paris without a real job. 

I photographed Paris from morning until the night my feet ached and I got lost. It was amazing. I love looking back at those first photos and I still remember what it was like to see so much of Paris for the first time. My official first trip to Paris was in 2003 and I had a bad case of bronchitis so it was much of a blur. 

I went home to Chicago and started editing my photographs. I reached out to One Kings Lane in the very early years and had my work featured in a few sales. I wouldn’t say it was overnight but things picked up a lot after that first trip to Paris. I owe the city a lot. It has helped me grow as a person and build a business. That is one of the reasons I keep returning. Since then I have partnered with Pottery Barn, West Elm, Papyrus, and Barnes and Noble and more.

When I look back on June 13, 2008, it was a blessing and one of the best things that have happened to me. Losing my job was not an ending but the beginning of me chasing my dreams and traveling the world. 

Let’s be honest the last nine years haven’t been all croissants, Eiffel towers, and pretty coffees. I have had more speed bump and roadblocks than I would like to admit. My photography, blog, and business are all self-taught and with that, there is a learning curve. You have good days, bad days, and in between days. Luckily for me, I have had great cheerleaders along the way. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today without my family and friends cheering me on. Looking back I wouldn’t change a thing even the really tough moments. If I changed anything I might not be in this very spot I am today. My reality has exceeded my dreams in so many ways. There are days I want to pinch myself to see if it is real.  I am truly grateful for everything.

rebecca plotnick paris france

When it comes to taking risks it is scary I know. I don’t know if I would have ever taken the leap to start something new or chase my dreams if there wasn’t the extra little push in 2008. Taking risks can land you somewhere bigger and better than you ever imagined. 

I can only hope that my story inspires you to chase your dreams and challenge you to discover what you want and go after it with all you have. 

Thank you for reading! 



A big thank you to Katie Donnelly Photography for the photos. 

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  1. Thank you for this! I have been a huge fan of yours for years. I first met you and saw your work at the Old Time Art Fair in Chicago. Your both spoke to me. I had lived in Paris for a year and your work pulled me in. Like you, I love to travel and love photography.
    Recently, I lost my job. It’s been really hard. The hardest has been the confidence and feeling broken and unneeded. I know I have alot of skills, experience, and talent to offer but I feel I have no one to offer it to. The rejection letters for new opportunities keep coming. I’m trying to stay positive but it is very difficult.
    I have several of your photos on display in my home. The one that speaks to me during this difficult time is the "tout est possible".
    Thank you for sharing your journey and talent with us. And thank you for your inspiring words on job loss at this difficult time.
    Keep being Amazing!

  2. I have adored your blog ever since I came across it and follow it religiously….. I am a 100 years older then you but love your spirit…
    This story about you has made me adore you more….what tenacity you have…I’m sure there are many who say to you "gee you’re lucky"… don’t let them… you took a risk and went for it when others would have trembled, own the hugeness of what you have done with your life and feel proud at your success.
    What an amazing young woman you are…

  3. It’s stories like yours, (especially yours as a fellow Francophile!) that helped me see the bright side of my own layoff. My one year is next week!
    Sometimes life pushes us before we’re ready, but eventually we find our feet again.

    It’s such an awesome thing to see people going after their dreams. Your story, handwork and dedication are an inspiration!

  4. I know we’ve talked about finding a time to meet for coffee in Chicago, but after reading this I want to make it happen soon! Your story aligns so much with what I have been discovering over the past year, and is so completely inspiring to me. Instead of wallowing, you made something incredible beautiful and chased your dreams. Thank you for all you create and share. It means a lot to me. Will you be in Chicago in July or August? Maybe I can convince my boyfriend to take a trip and we could grab a croissant at La Fournette. 🙂

    • Thank you for reading Leyla! It has been one big adventure that is for sure but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Thank you for all of your support and cheering me on! xo