This is the story of a recent college graduate who quickly discovered she did not have it all figured out.
For four years everything lined up perfectly. It wasn’t always easy (hell, the first two years were a disaster), but it was always clear. I always knew my next step. When to get an internship, how many hours of volunteering would look best on my resume, what was expected from me at practice and in the classroom, it all made sense.
Until it didn’t.
You might already know my story, how I was one of those people who applied to over 200 jobs in the months approaching my graduation (May 2021) and heard back from 0 jobs. Then I ended up getting a job offer when I least expected it. When I finallyyy got the call, I could feel in my gut that it was the right choice. It felt like my dream job. The opportunity I needed to jump start my career.
I'm now eagerly tracking towards my one year work anniversary, but itching for more. Suddenly, everything has become unclear again. I find myself in the same position as one year ago, begging the question: what's next for me?
Do I leverage the past year of experience to find a new opportunity?
Do I stay where I am and forge on?
Okay, now put a pin in that for a second.
Aside from the work piece and naively assuming my first job was going to be my dream job, there’s also a new part to my story: a relationship.
Just like my job, I met my boyfriend when I least expected it. As happy as I've been, it's hard not knowing what will be next for us because I don’t know where I want my career to go. Even that results in more questions. If I tried a different job in a new place would he want to make it work? Would he compromise for me the way I would for him?
Once upon a time I wrote an article about how New York was my dream. That being there, living there, would suit me.
And yet, what they say is true. It just takes that one person for you to re-assess everything you thought you wanted.
I could live in any number of places that would make me happy, and do any number of jobs that would excite me, but could I really find any number of partners that would make me feel the way I do as I write this?
It's easy to rag on the girls that give up things for their SO’s, but I don’t feel like I’m that girl. I feel like it’s not my dream to be there. Like if I never moved to New York I wouldn’t be giving up anything at all. On the other hand, I feel like if I made a choice that impacted my relationship I would be giving up everything; that it would turn me into a jaded 50-year-old who'd fall asleep at night wondering, is he the one that got away?
I know it might sound like I'm getting ahead of myself for being this fixated on the future, in a new relationship, at the age of 23. But the reality is that no matter how "young" I may be, I know that I don't want to spend any of my prime with someone I don't see potential with. I truly feel like I'm at a pivotal point where a few key decisions could shape my life. Then you have him, 5 years older, established in his career, and almost at that ready-to-settle-down age as I'm blindly figuring out my pieces.
What does that leave me with? A ridiculous amount of questions I internalize regarding my career and relationship, too many unknowns, and my heart as my compass.
So how can you truly find yourself without going down an Eat Pray Love route? Hell if I know.
All I know is that gut feelings matter. Happiness matters, and it should be enough to influence your decisions.
Maybe sometimes I am too honest and future-forward thinking.
Maybe wearing my heart on my sleeve will end in a face plant.
Maybe what I choose won't choose me.
Maybe it will. Maybe it'll all work out exactly how I hoped it would. OR maybe I'll get something better.