TO THE TWENTY-SOMETHING YEAR OLD THAT FEELS LOST

I feel you. I feel you so hard. What is it about this time in our lives that makes us feel so worthless and like all the work we have done before means nothing? I for one got so tired of feeling like what I wanted to do didn’t have value – it just wasn’t the normal thing for an American college grad to do.

I tried and tried to find a job. You could catch me on LinkedIn every day, searching new potential cities for entry level positions I’d never want to sit in. I got a few calls and nothing ever ended up working out. So I sat and watched all of my incredibly talented friends get offer after offer or prepare themselves for grad school. Why the hell wasn’t I turning into one of those people?!  I don’t know when or how it happened, but I decided the typical path just wasn’t for me – at least not yet.

I have just booked a one-way ticket to Spain and I don’t plan on returning to the states for quite some time. I’m 21 years old and I don’t want to start off my life sitting at a desk. This is not to say the people that did begin their careers a week after graduation are making a mistake, in fact I do envy a lot of perks that come with a legitimate job. I envy that you get to pay off student loans without dipping into your savings, but would I give that up to not get to follow my own dreams?

Here’s a little story:

My obsession with seeing the world has been so clear to me since high school. I took a trip to Italy and Greece and there we go I just had to go back one day…or better yet, somewhere new. So I studied abroad. I got an internship and saw what living abroad would look like. Upon my return home I found out it wouldn’t be so easy to permanently go back (thanks a lot visa regulations!). My point in telling you this story is that it’s totally okay to chase that little dream that keeps popping up in the back of your mind when you picture your ideal life! It’s okay!! I am starting off small, au pairing for a wonderful family while I search for a full time career. I’m not going to make a good salary for a while, but I chose that for myself. I am going to feel just as lost as I was on grad day in about 4 months when that tourist visa timeframe starts counting down. I promise you it’s okay.

I’m so happy for my friends moving up in the corporate world but more importantly I’m happy for myself finding my way out of everyone telling me to just choose the safe, “normal” route I saw all around me. I personally find more value in experiences than I do in material things and money but hey, that’s for another post sometime. I’m taking advantage of my ability to move so freely from city to city without having to worry about a kid to watch or a job and asking for time off. I won’t be able to do all that eventually and I’m just as excited for it, it just took me realizing I have the rest of my life to be employed.

I so deeply encourage you to try to stop the comparisons to those around you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a twenty-something year old or not, you are always going to doubt yourself if you try to beat out a friend. For all of our sakes, let’s focus on ourselves and doing what we actually want to do. xx

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  1. This is a very encouraging post. It helps to know I’m not alone. I’m 24 and I have no desire to go back into the corporate hustle unless I simply have to for survival (and even then it will be temporary). I applaud you for not jumping straight into the desk job life straight out of college. I learned the painful way. I graduated when I was 22 and a month later, got a job exactly in my field (photography/photo-retouching) that paid pretty well for a well-known clothing company. I thought it was a dream job, but by month 4 it felt like a living h3ll. Not even because it wasn’t doing what I loved, but I had a selfish manager from h3ll who only cared about covering her butt (she threw me under the bus a lot and other coworkers acknowledged it too). In the corporate world, I learned that people will use your age against you a lot because you seem like a threat or some spoiled kid undeserving of this type of income so early.

    They get even more aggressive and snake-like when they see you may know things they don’t about modern technology. On top of that, I had was trying to manage my medical condition, narcolepsy, that I kept secret for most of that year. I felt like I was dying (physically and mentally) there and was ready to quit, every day being the same pattern of poor management, long overtime, lack of clear direction and deadlines; and quick blame on me for when things went wrong (even though I would send email warnings trying to tell them what may go wrong and what may work). I never took a day for the whole year, I skipped out on medical appointments and did a lot of overtime because production was too high even though no one would give clear deadlines. And when I finally told my supervisor I needed a day or two off (10 months into the job) to take care of medical issues, she threatened to replace me. When things came to a head, I finally shared with her my condition and she scolded me and said that’s why everything is going wrong. I broke out in tears (which I barely do in front of people) and she just got more aggressive and insulting. A week later, my supervisor ended my contract without even saying anything to me, she had someone else tell me and when I emailed and called her phone to ask for clarity she didn’t respond. Btw she asked for all of my work files all of sudden the day before I found out my contract was ended, so it seems like she had planned to cut me lose while avoiding facing me. I never felt so used.

    I had wanted to quit a long time ago, but I kept listening to my older relatives saying “just bare through the rest of the year long contract at least or try staying for another year or two, that just how life is, welcome to the adult world”. I followed their advice and it ended horribly for me, but when everything came crashing down I never felt so relieved. It was like a curse was lifted and I haven’t jumped back in the full-time corporate world sense (and don’t really plan to).

    Anyway, I could write a novel on my h3llish experience that year on that job; but I don’t wanna add such an emotional comment to your post lol. I just wanna say I admire your courage to live. My advice is to follow you heart and instinct. There may be times where work is needed to provide for your needs, but don’t give your life away to it. No job is worth you happiness or health. I’ve avoided going back into full-time work since, and now I freelance. Not nearly the same amount of money I used to make but I’m way happier than ever. That weekly paycheck can’t amount to the peace I have right now. I wish you the most happiness <3

    1. I love hearing stories like yours! I’m so happy you’ve found your way to something you enjoy doing. So many people are quick to have an opinion on what you should be doing without realizing how it could impact you and your happiness, seriously thanks for sharing!

  2. I loved reading this. I have had so many hiccups in my life journey so far and I finally have a job where I am happy and secure. I do however have so many dreams that are also being put on hold thanks to visa regulations so I feel your pain! Thank you so much for sharing your experiences – I kind of envy you too!

  3. Lovely post 🙂 I went through a similar stage in my twenties. I travelled Europe, and I quit my career to explore other options. I now work with lots of people who are going through quarter-life crisis and want to change their career or life during their 20s. It is a great time for experimenting and travelling to find out more about yourself and the world. Thanks for sharing your experiences Emily!

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