You’re in the middle of the ocean being pounded by waves. There’s no land in sight; you are struggling to stay afloat. You could swim in any direction… but are paralyzed by fear.
Welcome to your “quarter life crisis”.
I know this feeling all too well; mine started at 22. Your twenties are supposed to be fabulous. You’ve just graduated from college, got hired at your dream job and are working toward success and independence.
But… what if it turns out your dream job, maybe even the education path you chose, isn’t what you truly want now? What if you look around… and this dream isn’t your dream any more?
I graduated and started working in my field, but I wasn’t happy. As Kayla Cruz put it in her recent post, I was working toward someone else’s definition of success. After struggling for a while, I figured out how to get through my quarter life crisis. I share my experiences here, so you’ll have some “been there, done that” thoughts to consider if (okay, when) you face your own QLC.
Pick a Direction
I figured out what I didn’t want to do. But then came the tough part – how do I figure out what I actually want to do?
A friend recommended that I start by reading a book called The Defining Decade by Megan Jay. The book is about how to make the most of your twenties by figuring out which direction you want to go in life. As I read, I felt like the author was writing specifically for me; it was refreshing to read I was not alone in my fear.
I quit the job I hated and then felt stuck… like I was in the middle of that ocean with thousands of directions to choose from, but couldn’t figure out which one to pick. I was working as a Nanny at the time and contemplated taking an additional job at Starbucks to make ends meet; but how was that going to get me anywhere?
Jay’s book recommends not having “filler jobs”. I agreed. Putting Nanny and Barista experience on a resume is not impressive to a hiring manager. You need real experience. However, in order to figure out what real experience you need, you first have to figure out what you want to do…
Find Your Passion
I knew I had to find my passion, so I looked at what I enjoyed most in life. The answer was obvious: social media. I love how Facebook and Twitter have made our world smaller and are changing everything we do. I got a job as a social media strategist and I loved it. I knew I was onto something. Then I decided to go back to school to get a Masters. I found a program that was tailored to learning online communities.
All the puzzle pieces were falling into place… those relentless waves stopped pounding me.
Find a Mentor
Megan Jay also recommends finding a mentor; someone who works in the field of business that you want to go into. Luckily for me, when I started working for YouTern I instantly got a mentor. He is teaching me so much about social media and this career path I have chosen.
I know that if I ever have a question or need some help I can definitely turn to him… fear dissipating.
I love my internship and my Masters program; I’m learning so many useful skills. I’m only 23 and have no idea what the next 7 years of my twenties hold for me, but I’m optimistic. I’ve picked my path and started swimming. I see land and I’m confident that the direction I’m going is the right one for me.
For all of you going through this right now, just know that you aren’t alone.
Also, remember that if you pick a direction and it doesn’t work out like you hoped, learn something from the experience gained. Then start swimming in a different direction.
Eventually you will find your way. When you do, pay it forward, and pass on your story to another twenty-something who maybe feels like they are drowning.
About the Author: Lauren Kirkpatrick is YouTern’s Social Media Outreach Intern. She graduated from San Diego State in 2011, with a Bachelors degree in Public Relations. During college she interned for Integrated Sports Marketing, and has since worked for several San Diego area PR firms while developing her passion for social media.
In her personal life, Lauren is never more than 3 feet from her iPhone or Macbook – she says “they have their own side of the bed” – (and our guess is they probably also have their own iNames!) She’s a sports junkie, TV aficionado and expert baker. Follow Lauren on Twitter!