I was never someone who had an idea of what her future would look like. It was a given that I would go to college, but beyond that everything was just a hazy blur. I spent years working so hard to get myself to that point, but ever since then I just feel like I’m squeaking by. I never really sat down and thought about what I wanted to do with my life. I always knew I liked to read and write, so publishing seemed like the logical career path. I got a job before graduating from college at a big fancy publishing house and the decision to move to New York was made for me. In theory, I was all set.
But then I made it to the big city and realized I wasn’t prepared for adulthood at all.
I remember my first day of my first full-time job. Walking to the subway in shoes that were too small and too tight, shredding my heels and having to stop at a drug store to buy bandaids. Being assigned a desk in a corner surrounded by finance bigwigs who didn’t speak to me and didn’t seem to notice I was there. Realizing for the first time that this new nine-to-five routine was quite possibly going to last forever and ever. No more carefree student days, just day upon day of responsibility and anxiety.
I went home and dry-heaved into the toilet, my heart racing. I think it was my first panic attack.
Of course, I adjusted to working life. That job wasn’t for me, but it led to another (also not a good fit) and then finally I made the decision to move back to California. It was probably my first life big decision that wasn’t made for me. I knew I wanted to be home and and realized that I had always probably known that it was where I should be. I was happier in the last seven years than I had been in a long time. I had given myself exactly what I needed and everything else fell into place.
But life apparently has other plans and now I find myself in a new country with all of this time to contemplate what I want to be when I grow up. And yet I’ve been a grown-up for years now. I have a master’s degree in something that isn’t in high demand at the moment and I’m not sure how/if I even want to use it now.
I could do anything . . . but I’m kind of dragging my heels. This is the first time in a long time where the future is wide open. I have the chance to start from scratch if I want to: to build a working life that is meaningful rather than a simple paycheck. I just need to figure out what I want and, quite frankly, all of this introspection is exhausting. I would much rather have someone (for some reason I keep picturing Tim Gunn from Project Runway) reveal my future and present me with a detailed list of steps to get there.
Sadly, life isn’t like that. Ugh, that’s so frustrating.
So for now, I am making my own list of all of the possible things I could become. It is color-coded and long and messy. But at least it’s a start.