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Like many of the people I went through grade school with, I had a job since I was 16-years-old. My first job ever was as a waitress at a retirement home... that's how badly I wanted to make my own money! I've always been an independent person (holding down three jobs as a full time student at one point). So, when I graduated college, I naively assumed life would continue as it always had: working, having fun, hanging out with friends, a little snip of day time drinking (no shame).
Before graduation, I decided to quit a job that I held onto my entire senior year, a job I had hoped to continue after graduation. Unfortunately, if I wanted to keep my sanity and maintain some semblance of mental health, I needed to let go and walk away. Something I wasn't prepared for was the sense of failure I felt after leaving that job. I believed I was doing something great for people, that I was helping people, and it killed me to realize that I couldn't 'get over' whatever I was feeling and going through. I wanted to be happy in what I was doing but I don't think many people my age truly find out what that means or how to achieve it. Growing up as a millennial, if something didn't make us happy, our parents either forced us to stay, suffer through and just never go back or we quit on our own. It all lead to the same conclusion: Leave the thing that makes you unhappy. Not everyone went through this as a kid, but for me it caused a lot of confusion at the end of the day. I learned how to walk away form something that made me unhappy, but I never really learned how to find what DID make me happy... everyone always just ignored that aspect of the conversation.
So, how do you move on after years of confused complacency, when you've just been thrust into a world of "career" as opposed to "job" and "finding happiness" as opposed to "leaving unhappiness?"
After quitting my job, dying a little on the inside from being perpetually emotionally exhausted (often crying at or after getting off work from everything I had to endure), I got a few temps here and there until landing a seemingly perfect position in a semi-corporate atmosphere! And then I died even more. My soul felt like it was being totally shunned and ignored, ready to bolt at the first sign of continued neglect. I was bored, unchallenged, and spending way too much time commuting back and forth (it took me two hours to get to work with all the traffic)!
It felt like I couldn't win.
I had a job that used my degree but made me absolutely hate socializing. A job that put me in a position to help people but made me cry from the verbal and emotional abuse. A job I felt proud to have but ashamed to be struggling with at the same time. A job that I ultimately had to leave.
Feeling like the flip side of life would be better, I took a job that was the complete opposite but was also making me miserable. A job that most people would dream of: something that paid well for doing nothing at all. After spending two hours in a car, I would spend nine hours sitting in a cubicle, getting paid for only eight of those hours since I was forced to take a one hour lunch break. I was promised busy work that was never the same day after day but instead, I got complete and utter inactivity. I sat for those nine hours, everyday for five days a week, doing absolutely nothing. Whatever my boss could find for me to do, I finished in a matter of minutes and I never got to know anyone in the office so I just sat in silence, burning through battery life. So there I was, leaving again.
It seemed that this sort of mundane conventionality just wasn't for me. Maybe I wasn't meant to have a traditional job. But what did that mean?
It means that I have to let go of everything I think I know about the 'real world.' Those concepts don't exist anymore. Whatever world my parents grew up in where they learned how to work a job they absolutely hated for thirty-five years, doing nothing more than having heated gossip session when they came home, is not the world I grew up in. I grew up being told I could do anything I put my mind to. I grew up knowing that the only sacrifices you made were for yourself and the people you loved the most. If there was ever any part of the world that demanded anything else from you, then they were SOL because you never did anything that was pointless, and being unhappy was the absolute most pointless thing you could do.
It still boggles my mind that the parents of my generation are so outraged by this mentality. It was growing up seeing them so unhappy and always complaining that made us realize exactly what we didn't want our lives to be like. It was hearing them say that we could do anything that really opened our eyes to how limited they had been growing up and their desperation to give us the chance they wish they had had. The thing is, is that we were so transfixed and overwhelmed by how we DIDN'T want our lives to turn out that we never even asked ourselves, 'Ok, so what DO I want my life to be like?' Even those of us who asked that question could only come up with things we knew we wouldn't stand for.
So how do we walk forward when we're blindfolded? We know the blindfold can come off, we know there's a solution, but where is the tie and why is it so tight?
We have to rewire everything we think we know. The problem is that the world has already been built and structured to someone else's specifications.
Moving on after college brings a whole lot of realizations that a lot of us just weren't, and still aren't, prepared for. However, I DO know that searching for that life altering, all fulfilling career that will last you all the years to come is an expectation that I am not willing to have for myself. It's funny how much the simple act of letting go of any expectations can actually help you to fulfill those very expectations.
Currently, I'm pursuing things that contradict my traditional perspective on life after college completely. Now I'm realizing that I spent four years in college to graduate with a degree I may never actually use in a job setting. I spent four years earning a degree that was supposed to increase my chance of making money just to realize that money is the last thing I want to think about. I'm pursuing a life I'm creating for myself, with no outline and no template to form it after. I am free handing my future! And yes, I'M HAPPY (even if my parents aren't)!