As a teenager I fantasized about what type of woman I would be in my 20s. At the time I imagined I’d be like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. I’d be sophisticated yet sexy, driven yet carefree, and wise beyond my years yet still youthful in my appearance and mannerisms.
The other day I asked my friends on Facebook to describe in a couple words what life in the 20s is like. Their answers didn't exactly line up with my childhood fantasy. Here are some of the comments I received:
- Black and bottomless as the quality of water at night
- A time to have a lot of new experiences…a time to sample the smorgasbord of life
- A journey of self exploration
- A mysterious adventure
- Hectic and stressful, but also, fun and unforgettable
- Filled with new experiences and challenges
- A shit show
When I received my Bachelors Degree from the College of Wooster this year there was a part of me that believed I owed it to myself to materialize my childhood notion of the post-graduate life. I was ready to turn over a new chapter, one in which my success would no longer be judged by the numeric value of my GPA. I returned to my suburban home seeking to find an answer to the timeless questions: “what is next?"
In the coming weeks I watched as my friends on Facebook prepared for graduate school or new fancy jobs. Although I was happy for them and their success, I was also eager to get started on my own path. This was the first time in my life I really had no idea what the future had in store for me. Everything about my life seemed covered by a shadow of uncertainty. Where would I work? Where I would I live? Would my reality coincide with my goals and dreams?
One unexpected day I received a call from Grange Insurance. They wanted me to interview for an internship position in their Sales & Marketing department. There were still a lot of uncertainties – I had never heard of the company and I had no idea if I would be able to find a sublease in such a short amount of time. Despite all of this ambiguity, I decided to interview for the position. One week later, they called me and informed me that I received the position and would be starting the following week.
While I was ecstatic about the opportunity, I was also terrified. I finally had an answer to some of my questions, but I still felt uncertain. I had a plan for what I was going to do (at least for the summer) and yet, I missed the familiarity of my old life. I was reminded of what a friend of mine had told me this summer: “plans don’t buy happiness.” Maybe what she said had more then a little bit of truth…
After three months working at Grange I was satisfied with my experience, but yearned for a more permanent position. I wanted to stay at Grange, but unfortunately they did not have the budget to hire me on full time. So I accepted that next job offer that came my way. It was a sales position that offered a base salary and uncapped commission. It sounded promising…it sounded like a quick answer to my pending questions about the future.
So I accepted the offer and began my new sales job. However, I soon learned that it was really a cold calling position, which would not leverage my strengths or interests. As I set at my desk making phone calls to complete strangers the promise of money became meaningless.
"Why am I forcing myself to do something that makes me miserable?” I often wondered.
On September 22nd I learned news that would change my life forever. My dear classmate, Molly Bennett—a sweet, vivacious girl with so much promise and opportunity—died of cancer at the ripe age of 22. I couldn’t believe that someone like me who had real dreams and fears could just be gone like that. It made me examine my current situation.
I realized that even when things in life seem certain there is still so much uncertainty. We can’t control the amount of living years, days, and hours we have left. The only things we can control are the choices we make each day for how we want to live our lives.
I quit my job two days later. I was unemployed and uncertain about my future. But for the first time I felt like I had an idea of where I wanted to go and the type of person I wanted to be. I didn’t want to go through the motions to earn a paycheck or a status as an accomplished post-graduate. I did want to live passionately and fully.
It’s been almost a month since the day I
walked away from my job at the call center. I still have
many unanswered questions. Each day I am working toward my career goals and communicating with organizations that share similar interests, values, and motivations. In the process I have gained a certain level of confidence that
the uncertainties in life can’t break me because in the end they are what make
me stronger. I can honestly say that my 20's life has not been anywhere close to that of Carrie Bradshaw's on Sex and the City. And at the end of the day I wouldn't have it any other way.