Do what makes you happy, they say. But what if you don’t know how to turn that into a career? What if you haven’t found your passion and are unsure how to begin? College and career counselors from institutions like Norwich University have advice for the beginner, but what if you’ve read the books, asked the questions, made the lists, shadowed the jobs, had the interviews – and still feel lost? You aren’t alone.
This generation is unlike any other. We don’t all join the family business. We have more options than we know what to do with. Women are part of the workforce – for better and worse. What if you don’t fit the modern-day-woman mold, and you find yourself wanting more than anything else to be a wife and mother? You then become the target of men and women alike, looked down upon for your beliefs, and it becomes increasingly difficult to find a partner who shares those values (unless you live in a community that welcomes and practices traditional family values). What if you want to dedicate your life to supporting your husband-to-be’s career? What if you discover you don’t enjoy professional criticism or climbing a corporate ladder as you once imagined you would? What makes some people happy drives others to tears and stress beyond imagination- feeling the pressures and physical demands of the working world without the rewards?
Then you start to feel incompetent because you’re not where you thought you’d be by now. You haven’t lived up to the expectations of those around you and the expectations you have of yourself. You live at home…again! (They don’t call us the Boomerang generation for nothing!).
You start to feel more and more depressed. You want to have a career, a passion, a life of meaning and purpose, but you have been in and out of jobs for years, and none of them feel right. There’s uncertainty. There’s confusion. The option of higher education doesn’t seem to pay off either- what about the time and money you spent or have to spend? Are you sure it’s what you want to dedicate your life to? Did you calculate the debt you’re going to be in? With accumulative interest rates? All that for a career path you’re not even sure you’ll really love or be able to secure a position in – it doesn’t make much sense anymore, does it?
Then you work jobs that make you feel overworked and undervalued. You like certain aspects of the jobs, but hate many other important elements. You start to think this is not how you want to live your life. You want to stay healthy, have autonomy, be creative, and know you are doing something great and meaningful with your life. Forty hours a week can be exhausting – yet people tell you if you want to build a career, you’ll need to put in fifty plus hours a week. (Don’t they ever get tired?) You’re not lazy- you just want to have a life outside of work. You want a job that gives you flexibility and still have health and a protection for your future and retirement. You want to have enough time to spend on whatever it is you value without feeling completely depleted at the end of each day.
So you look into other options. Should you be a Pilates instructor? A Physical Therapist? A business owner? You research endless options, only to find yourself confused, discouraged, and at a loss.
Not an easy task, right? I know it’s easy to feel upset and alone, but remember, you’re not the only one facing this crisis, and there is a solution. Keep in mind that not everyone is meant for Corporate America. Not everyone finds happiness in the same way. Not everyone knows what they want to do – and that’s okay. Do what you love without stressing about your career path. Do things that make you happy in general – have a martini! Sit at the beach! Read more books! Have patience, try something new, and eventually it will work out.
Have the faith you need to survive. Listen for a calling – it may come when you least expect it. Have confidence in yourself. Know that making “mistakes” takes you one step closer to what’s right for you. Start a cooking career! Or, you could always be a professional whistler!
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. – Marianne Williamson