They say that life after college is incredibly bittersweet, and boy did they (whoever the hell they are) mean it. On one hand, it’s sad to close the chapter to several years of education, being a student, and the daily relationships you’ve had with your peers, classmates, and friends. But on the other hand, it’s exciting to go off into the big RW and establish oneself as an — ahem — adult.
Actually, you know what? I take that back. Right now this transition period between graduation and a full-time career is tough. Like, close the blinds, hide under the covers, and call my parents sobbing kind of tough.
But, I digress.
The truth is that I decided halfway into my graduate program in social work that it really wasn’t my passion anymore. It was a hard realization (and definitely a scary one), but I’m so happy that this epiphany happened sooner rather than later. Don’t get me wrong — I love helping others and talking people through their problems. But when I looked through the proverbial lens into the future, I couldn’t picture myself doing what I had planned to do since high school. And wow, was that a reality check. Instead, I imagined myself doing something a bit more exciting and maybe even a little more entertaining.
Cue the intern that may have changed my life.
One day, as I was interning at a high school (at the time counseling students), my fellow intern came through the doors exclaiming, “Guys! I got a job writing for a website!” My first reaction was, “Huh?” But after she explained that it was a women’s interest blog that hired new writers, I thought to myself, “I could totally do that”. I went home later that day, applied to the website, and ended up getting the job. I loved writing for the site so much that I got two internships with other sites and decided that this was what I wanted to do.
Eight months later, I know that this wasn’t just a random spur-of-the-moment decision because I’m working hard at making this my career, and that’s truly what the whole point of this article is about. After getting past the bitter part of my transition into adulthood, I finally started to see the bright side: If you’re in the middle of school or even your career and you wake up every morning just dreading work, finding yourself using the word “hate” more and more often to describe your job, then take a big step back. Look at your life, what your passions are, and where you truly see yourself. I have so many friends who are currently working a job that they know isn’t for them, but right now we’re at a point in our lives where we’re too young to throw in the towel and just stick with a job because we have a degree in that field and because the job is there. It’s time to pave a new path.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” (Ralph Waldo Emerson). Ironically, this quote was hanging up on the wall of my old internship at the high school — but when my boyfriend gave me a graduation card that had this same quote without knowing I loved it, I felt as though it was a sign. Even if you don’t know what it is exactly that you want to do, the journey there will help you figure it out. Try new things, travel, and think of those times where you did something that gave you that excited feeling you only get once in a great while. Whatever that may mean for you, do it. Start paving that path and leave an amazing, no-holds-barred kind of trail.
I always remind myself that we only have this one life we’re living right now. That’s it. This one time here on earth to make what we will of ourselves. I refuse to live a life that I’m not happy with — and neither should you. Don’t work a job that doesn’t make you happy; find something that makes you excited to get up in the morning.
Moving forward, I’d like to abandon that bittersweet notion of my 20’s and just focus on the sweet. Life’s too short to have anything bitter.
Have you changed your career recently, or are you thinking of doing so?
Photo: Thomas Leuthard / imcreator