Let me know if this sounds familiar:
Go to college, graduate, get a job, find your significant other, have a family, and retire.
If this sounds like the path you’ve been told is the right way to happiness, you’re not alone. I used to believe each of those steps would come right after the other and I would live a happy, fulfilled life.
Though things didn’t turn out that way, I’m glad they didn’t! I wouldn’t be half the woman I am today and I’ll tell you why.
If there’s anything I learned in the past couple of years is that life is complicated and it doesn’t always go according to plan. And if you’re anything like me, you love structure and having things planned. When it dawned on me that this “tried-and-true” formula wasn’t working for me, it sent me into a bit of a not-quite-quarter life crisis.
A Quick Backstory
As a child, I was admittedly very sheltered and very shy. Aside from several friends in school, my social circle was really my parents and my extended family. Everything I really knew, I knew from my family and school.
From the very beginning, I knew education was important and that it was expected of me to go to college to get my Bachelors and Masters degree. And I had no complaints because I figured that was the safest and smartest thing to do. I always assumed everything else would follow as it was supposed to: a job and wayyy later down the line, a family.
Then Things Got Complicated…
When the time came for me to attend college and pick a major, that’s when things started to get a little confusing. I had absolutely NO idea what I wanted to major in. I started college as an interior design major, then a biology major, and finally a journalism major.
Once I graduated college, I was suddenly thrown into this world I was not prepared for. School had been my safety net for 16 and a half years and all of a sudden, I felt like I was thrown in the deep end of a pool when I didn’t even know how to swim.
I spent months applying for jobs but to no avail. I either got rejection letters or no response at all.
This was my life for seven months after officially being done with college. On top of that, my family would ask me what I was doing, when I would be going to get my Masters, and all these other questions I grew sick of answering.
How was I supposed to know when I’m getting my Masters when I couldn’t even find a job in the field I studied in?
The cherry on top was seeing others around me getting jobs shortly after graduating. Not that I wasn’t happy for them but it made me wonder why I wasn’t receiving job offers. After getting good grades, being involved, and holding leadership positions, why didn’t employers think I was worthy of an entry-level job?
Fast Forward to the Present
Two and a half years after graduating and several jobs later, I’m still not exactly where I want to be…not that I know where that is anyway. But that’s not to say I haven’t grown in that time. Even though my life hasn’t followed the path I thought it was going to go on, I’ve gained and learned a lot in the past few years:
- You can’t plan everything – Some things can’t be planned so deal with it when it happens. “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” as my best friend always says.
- Don’t expect things to always go your way – the whole point of this post!
- Independence – with a job came money which allowed me to experience living on my own (with my best friend, no less!) for the very first time and paying for my own expenses, necessary or otherwise.
- Persistence – I already had some of that when I first started applying for jobs but once I got fired from one of my jobs, I really got to see how strong my determination to get back on my feet was.
- Responsibility – I wasn’t the most helpful person growing up when it came to household work. But living on my own taught me to be responsible for my own belongings, food, and bills.
- There’s more out there than what you’ve been taught – Working jobs in different industries and being put in this whole situation taught me that life is more than simply going to school, getting a job, and raising a family. There are so many things to experience! Expand your mind, educate yourself, and try new things. It’s okay to stray off “the path” once in a while.
- You have a support system that’s there for you – I learned to open up and let people in. You never know how much love and support you have around you until you give others a chance to show you. There were many days where I felt down about not getting a certain job or not being where I wanted to be in life and my friends were always there to pick me up and make me feel better.
- If you’re not happy with something, do something to change it – This is one I’m still working on and it’s a hard one. I still don’t know what I want to be when I “grow up” but after turning every experience into a learning moment, I know I’m a lot closer now to figuring it out than I was two and a half years ago. I now know that I need a creative outlet to stay sane which is how this blog came about. Now I have something I’m proud of and can build upon to create something (hopefully) extraordinary.
Life is complicated, confusing, and scary as hell. But that doesn’t mean you should let it get the best of you. Things won’t always go according to plan and you know what, that’s okay! There’s more to life than reaching those milestones that were laid out for you.
Here’s a little advice for the both of us in case we both start freaking out about how we’re not where we’re supposed to be:
Enjoy the moments in between those milestones, the windy road from point A to point B, that blind stumble into “adulthood.”
It’s hard accepting there’s no one correct way to get to the end goal, whatever it may be. But, it’s not so bad. I may not be where I want to be but I definitely made some amazing memories along the way.