Life is so weird, isn’t it?
I’ve been especially introspective this past week because it’s been one whole year since I graduated from college*. At the time, I thought I’d move back to California, give myself about a week or two to settle in and get some job applications out, and then BOOM—land a great job immediately. That’s it, I’d be set, piece of cake. No stress or rejection, no uncertainties. Boy oh boy, was I wrong.
* Where has my youth gone?!!?!
I don’t really know what gave me such a sense of entitlement. Sure, I have an overactive imagination and sure, I can be too optimistic at times, but I was honestly shocked when I wasn’t hearing back from all of these companies that I had submitted myself to. That shock very quickly turned into anxiety, followed by a dangerous cocktail of anger and defeat. Then I just thought that nobody would ever hire me and I’d be living at home forever with student debt up to my eyeballs. And then I turned a corner and got lazy. (I was honestly such a nightmare to deal with and I think I had my whole family wishing I would go back to Chicago.)
Luckily, I have a Starbucks habit that is very expensive and I eventually whipped my ass into shape because the only options were to get a paying job or give up Starbucks. I’ve watched enough Intervention to know that withdrawal is a very real struggle, and I was not ready to put my body through that.
The last two years of college, which I spent in Chicago, were full of yeses and successes (was really not expecting “yeses” to be a word recognize by spell check). I excelled in school, I had two great internships and flourished in both, I financially supported myself with a job that was so much fun, and I was really killin’ it, if I may toot my own horn. I was certain that I would ride that giant wave of success all the way back to California and hop right into a glamorous job. Nope, nope, nope.
If somebody had told me one year ago that this year would be what it was, I would have cackled and made some sarcastic remark about how wrong he or she was. None of this past year was in my “plan.” After almost six months of total unemployment and anxiety, I landed a great PR internship (which has now turned into a real job!) and started working part-time hosting and doing private events for a restaurant. PR wasn’t even on my list of potential career paths during college, and I sure as hell wasn’t about to get another restaurant job after college. But I did, and all of it has led me to where I am now. I love what I’m doing, I’m excited about my future, and most importantly, I’m okay.
I recently watched an interview with Tavis Smiley in which he recalled one of the most poignant things Maya Angelou ever said to him: “We find our path by walking it.” That struck me on such a personal level and almost sent shivers down my spine. There I was, trying to sprint down this path that I was so sure was mine to walk down, feeling so defeated when I could not even find it on my map. I wish I could have let go of my expectations and kept an open mind. Thankfully something finally got through to me and I tried something new. By no means was it a risk, but I considered taking a new path instead of killing myself trying to bust onto this other one that wasn’t letting me through. (This path metaphor is hard to keep up; I’m dropping it now.)
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a very high-strung person. By no means am I spontaneous or free-spirited. “Going with the flow” is not something I excel at. I need plans, I need structure, I need logic. But what I have found that I really need is to chill the hell out. I know that things don’t just figure themselves out without hard work and problem-solving, but life doesn’t have to be as stressful as I’ve made it. The sky isn’t going to fall; I’m good.