As a kid, I had my life figured out.
I planned to be engaged by age 24 and married at 26. After the fancy wedding (which, obviously, I planned out several years ago), we’d move into a country cottage that looked just like the one from the ‘Life’ house card with a big yard and a garden. I’d plant daffodils and daisies.
I’ll be turning 25 next month and this fantasy world is a) not even close to the future I envision for myself at this point and b) unattainable anyway, because I don’t have anyone on hand to buy me a ring in the next few weeks. (Who wants me???)
Career paths are often no different than personal aspirations.
The last year has been tumultuous and terrifying. For months, I lost the basic ability to send emails without first asking my mother to proof them for me. I lost every bit of confidence in the one passion I cared about the most. I spent months writing unpaid restaurant reviews and virtually nothing else, despite being a trained, professional writer, in an attempt to remind myself that I still could form cohesive sentences.
When I was 22, this was not the case. Overnight, I transitioned from a community reporter to a communications professional for a billion-dollar organization in the city. I was thrown into office politics and top-level secrets and the ever-so-normal runaround for every single item on my to-do list. There was no individuality. There was no trust. There was no room for new, young ideas.
Since last summer, I have had a horrible time trying to explain to all of you what happened at the end. You might have heard me say: “It’s a, uuuum, long story.” I’ve usually followed this by offering some bits of the last few months there — the ones that come up in my head as I’m talking to you.
I once tried to explain my departure in an interview with a potential employer and received the response:
“Honey, didn’t your mommy and daddy tell you it’s a terrible idea to quit before lining up another job?”
And while it’s taken me a long time to openly come to terms with it, the fact is that I didn’t quit. I fought. I fought so damn hard to keep my voice and to stay. But my voice had no place there. It wasn’t the place for me. It wasn’t the right fit.
I’m conversational. I like writing fun, cutesy stories. I can talk to you about restaurants, craft beer and travel all day. But please don’t ask me about policy and corporate structure. My eyes will glaze over and my head hurts.
AND THAT’S OKAY!
I am not where I thought I’d be when I was 22. I’m not climbing a corporate ladder, and I have no desire to work in a politically-charged culture again.
But I am posting a blog entry. And I have re-gained my love of writing. And I don’t need my mother to proof my emails anymore.
Rarely do careers or relationships follow linear, simple paths. Growing is all about figuring this stuff out.