By Melanie Walker
So I had a very interesting thing happen to me earlier this week--
I was at my job, completely miserable, when I found myself daydreaming. In this daydream, I pictured myself as a flight attendant, in grad school, a backpacker, a freelancer. I pondered several career paths that I could follow, places I could visit, and different scenarios I put myself in. The anxiety started to creep in… Crap. This is not what I went to college for. This is not the plan.
One thing I think you should know about me is that I always have a plan. Let me italicize the word always again.
Now, I’m 23. Fresh off the college grad market. Newly moved. In search of a job in my career path. Single. And barely building up my savings. I always envisioned a certain timeline of my life—degree, immediate job in that degree, marriage, kids, and with the occasional travel trip.
However, here I am daydreaming about different vocations in life and different directions to take my new degree. Certainly, a 23-year old college graduate should have it more figured out, right?
I can honestly say that I had my whole life more figured out for me as a 17-year old looking at colleges than I do now. Why? Because of my timeline. Because I was afraid to deviate from the schedule. Because I was afraid to open my mind.
Well life doesn’t necessarily unravel accordingly—which is a huge, neurotic experience for someone like me who likes itineraries and scheduled stops. So what do we do when that happens?
The automatic, anxiety reflex in my mind began to flare up. But then, a more calm, mature, and intuitive voice overcame me. It said this:
You’re 23. You don’t have a set plan? Good. That’s how it’s supposed to be.
After work, in a sort of manic yet composed state of mind, I went and spontaneously spent 60$ on something I’ve really wanted for a while now (it was all in my budget. Don’t splurge!), went home and just relaxed. Since then, I’ve looked into different career paths, sent out some different applications, and pondered the next step. How do I feel? At peace. At peace with myself, and with the possibility of a new plan life has in store for me.
If you’re in the same situation as me or perhaps a similar one: take a deep breath. Breathe deeply. Maybe you’re three years into college and still can’t decide on a major, or you’re finding yourself in a dead-beat career path that’s sucking your light. Whatever it is, the beauty of life is that we are constantly changing and evolving into more developed human beings.
Don’t have a plan or want a new one? You can always change it. Didn’t plan on an obstruction in your path? You can take a new path if you want. Or, build over or around it! It’s your life, and you’re entitled to do whatever it is you need to do to make yourself happy as long as it’s safe and with good intent.
What’s in store for me?
Maybe I’ll decide to keep my job and learn to love it. Maybe I’ll quit and backpack Europe and write about my adventures. Maybe I’ll find a different career and get my Master’s degree in something I really love. Maybe I’ll fall in love in the next year and want a family instead. Whatever it is, it’s my story. And it’s a beautiful one—whatever it may be.
“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.” –Eric Roth