Making It Work

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.


7 thoughts on “Making It Work

  1. Wow, I identify with this sooooooo much. For the first few paragraphs, I felt like it was *ME* writing. Whoa.

    Introspection can be hard. And exhausting, like you said. But rewarding, too.

    I think the most important thing is to find something you truly enjoy. “Follow your bliss.” I’m paraphrasing, but if you follow your bliss, doors will open unto you that were previously closed.

    I think we find meaning in the things we enjoy. The things that give us constant refreshment, energy, renewal. We may not know what those things end up meaning until the end or only in retrospect — but it’ll all make sense. 🙂

    • I agree! In the past, I’ve been drawn to things that were practical rather than enjoyable. I’m hoping that this time around I’ll make enjoyment a priority.

      • Yes, me too! I think I get stuck thinking: well, I can’t have both… when really, there probably is a win-win sort of situation…

  2. It is so wonderful to read this, it helps me feel so much less alone. I am in exactly the same mental state…I was really good at getting myself through school and graduating and getting good grades and all of that, but now that am in an “adult”, I have nooooo idea what the hell I am doing. Every day is an overwhelming scramble. Some days that’s a good thing, some days that’s a bad thing. Sigh.

    • I know exactly what you mean. I alternate between feeling hopeful and terrified. I was kind of nervous about posting this (a lot of the bloggers I follow never really acknowledge the tough things they must be going through), but it makes me feel so much better to know that I’m not the only one who hasn’t figured this whole “adult” thing out.

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