I’m writing this as I sit here waiting for my (now former) boss to finish her meeting. Why am I waiting? I’ve finally built up the confidence to go into her office and give her my notice. After a year and a half of working in the field I received my degree in, I have come to realize that I do not find the level of satisfaction that I imagined sitting in an undergraduate classroom.
This realization is something that has become increasingly more prominent within the last few weeks as I have sat here at my desk, contemplating who I am as a “career woman.”
For years I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I had a glamorous visual of myself, walking into a high-rise building with patent leather heels of an equally tall height.
Professional, driven, and ready to conquer the corporate world like Sheryl Sandberg insisted I should. Over a year ago, I received an offer to work in marketing on the 21st floor of a large building and thought to myself, “This is it. This is the beginning of your future.” On my first day, I woke up early to make sure I looked the part, grabbed my brand new notebook, my most professional-chic pair of shoes, and headed to my brand new desk.
In that moment, I had made it. The years of schooling were worth it. I would be earning a steady paycheck, and yet nothing was more satisfying than the fact that I now had an answer to the notorious post-graduation question: “So what are you going to do after college?” I had a job in marketing, ambitions to one day work my way up the corporate ladder, and a feeling of relief knowing my career was off to a wonderful start.
As a so-called “planner,” who has an entirely too detailed agenda, knowing this gave me an overwhelming sense of comfort. Yet as the months dragged on, my responsibilities increased along with my stress levels, and I began to notice an inverse relationship to my happiness. Week by week the glamor began to fade, and before I knew it I was going to work in flats (which is quite out of character). Why had the ambitions subsided so quickly? Was I just not acclimated to the idea of “reality?” I hated thinking of myself as that 20-something who has unrealistic expectations of a career, but was my unhappiness actually just my inner self clinging onto my careless youth before I move into adulthood?
In all honesty, these questions are still left unanswered in the back of my head as I write this. In an attempt to answer them, I waited it out to see if my mind would change. Work wasn’t absolutely unbearable by any means – the company I worked for was wonderful, and my coworkers were even better. We invested interest in each other’s lives, laughed on a daily basis, and were there to help each other when needed. They, and fear of uncertainty, are truly what have kept me here so long. Yet it has come to the point at which my unhappiness has affected my optimism, relationships with friends and family. I know something must be done, but searching for that next step in an abyss of uncertainty is not the most comforting feeling in the world.
Society tells us that our twenties are a monumental decade in a woman’s life. It is overwhelming to imagine where I thought I would be at 23 and where I actually am:
I’m in a relationship and most likely will be married with kids before I am 30…
…I live at home and am not currently looking to live elsewhere.
…I’m preparing for my last chance of being Miss California.
…I’m soon to be unemployed.
…I’m absolutely terrified.
But I am hopeful.
I am proud.
I see more wealth in the fact that I have made the choice to abandon dissatisfaction for true happiness than I do a steady income.
I am making tremendous steps in understanding who I am as a person, and working here has helped me do that. I am not meant to sit in a cubicle - in fact, I think it makes me crazy. I am meant to make an impact on others, and to teach.
Growing up with an absolute love for education, it seems as if this was the logical path for me to take in the first place. Yet never for one second do I regret the choices I made in my undergraduate studies. I have acquired skills, made long lasting friendships, and more importantly learned first-hand what I do not want to do for a living. While preparing to close this chapter in my life, I have already begun to write the next. I am admitted into a credential program and am waiting for the final results of my CBEST exam so that I may become a substitute teacher in the interim period.
I’m sitting here, nervous, maybe even using this story as a way to procrastinate going into that office, but know who I am and who I want to be in the coming years begins in this moment. For as many times that I have told girlfriends not to “settle” for men who don’t truly make them happy, it is time to take my own advice and find a catalyst for joy. Yet for how much anxiety I feel, (and will feel in the coming moments) my excitement and hope by far surpass it. I am meant to do other things. They may not be bigger, they may not be better, but they are certainly different.
My heart is full of ambition to impact the lives of our youth and encourage them, too, to never fear the magnitude of their own dreams. This may not have been scheduled in my life-planner, (the idea of quitting my career, wasn’t. To be honest, “talk to boss” was totally written in on this day) but I’m starting to realize that the best parts of life come when they are unexpected. I see the opportunity to be the person I was intended to be and am ready to take it.
Here we go!