I cannot fathom how many “unknowns” circle around us after college and in our twenties. What will my career be when I’m grown up? (I’m not grown up yet) Who will my best friends be? Who will I marry? What will their career be?!
So many what if’s! This is when we start planning. No real plans, just imaginary ones. Imaginary plans are the future outcomes we imagine in our minds and they are usually the best outcome we can think of (free from all those other things that end up getting in the way).
This is also when we realize that our imaginary plans from high school are totally not coming true. You didn’t end up dating that soccer star in college, becoming a fashion designer, and getting married at twenty-two years old. In fact, you are twenty-four and that’s the last thing on your mind.
This doesn’t mean that imagining outcomes is wrong or stupid. I think we have to. How else would we have structure or motivation in our lives? How else would we make decisions and weigh our options? But I think that it’s a vital part of your twenties to realize that your imagined plans won’t always go as planned. Your relationships will change, unexpected events will occur, decisions will have to be made and a variety of opportunities will arise.
My first full time job out of college was managing a clothing boutique. I had worked in the bridal industry before and developed a little passion for fashion. I thought this job would be perfect for me. So excited to be making money, I didn’t even give this job a whole lot of thought. Well, within just two months I was miserable.
When I got this job I created an imaginary plan. I would work there for a year, save up fifteen grand (I laugh thinking about that now) and then travel Europe [laugh’s again].
Although I was miserable at work, I kept coming back to this plan. I kept worrying that if I left this job I might not save the money I had planned to or be able to travel, so I kept trudging along. I felt lost and confused and my friends complained that I wasn’t myself. Within a few weeks, my manager picked up on this and sat me down to talk. Needless to say, that was end of my journey I retail.
This was a huge learning experience for me. Being unhappy only to think that it would allow me to be happy later was not the right idea. After all, who can guarantee I will be happy in Europe, yet alone make it there? What’s important is enjoying life now.
After I left that job, it wasn’t all sunshine and cookie cake (I love cookie cake). It was quite the opposite. Can you say, unemployment? How about, seven months of it? Yeah, that was me.
I’m not going to sugar-coat it, it was stressful. I had just moved out of my parents house and into a new place with my boyfriend. And here I was, with just enough money saved up to pay rent.
Good-bye weekday shopping sprees. It was a blessing in disguise that I lost my job in retail. I am the last person who should work in a clothing store. It is surprising that I didn’t end up on True Life: Ungrateful Millennials Spend Life Savings on Crop Tops.
After going through the dreadful application process once again, I decided to get a lot more picky with the jobs I applied for. You’d think it would be the opposite after being unemployed for 7 months – that I’d be desperately searching for any means of income. But I refused to settle because I had a pretty good idea of what that outcome looks like.
You are probably wondering if I am still unemployed. No, I am not. I did find a job, with the help of a friend, doing content writing and marketing. Do I want to do it forever and ever? Probably not. Do I enjoy it and not complain to my boyfriend every morning while eating breakfast? Yes. Bless his heart.
As for traveling Europe, it’s still something I plan on doing. But now my big plan has had some thoughtful editing and a healthy dose of reality. Things have worked out for the best, even if I had a difficult time seeing it that way a few months ago.
The point is – don’t settle for a job if it makes you unhappy. Every day won’t always be cookie cake, but it shouldn’t be a one-way trip to depression either.
I am not saying to drop the ball and quit your job. But if you are unhappy, you should start looking for alternatives. It doesn’t matter how great you thought the job was when you got it, or how perfectly it fit into your big plan – if it’s bringing you down maybe it’s time to rewrite that plan.