At 21, a fresh-faced college grad unfamiliar with the struggles of the career world, I wanted to do 8,000 things. I wanted to be an artist, a writer, a world traveler, a photographer and a graphic designer. How could I pick just one? And furthermore, how could I build a full-fledged career when I didn’t even know how my skill set and talents could translate into real life jobs?
So I tried a few things. And then I tried a few more. I worked at a bakery to be a cupcake designer (very short-lived), then taught elementary school as a permanent sub for two rewarding years. I worked in a study abroad office in higher ed, did writing freelance, volunteered as a writing coach for high school students, all the while applying, making connections, taking internships, working hard and doing all the things you are supposed to do. No one wanted to hire me full-time, nothing worked out and nothing truly felt “right.”
So I continued to forge forward, to be happy, to give. Years full of experiences came and went, friends got married, baptized their children, bought houses, got promotions. I smiled, felt joy for them, laughed at all the right times, and traveled miles to be there for every major life event of those I love. I gave all I could, while everyone else’s lives seemed to be on track towards life’s end goal.
I saved to travel during the summers, while others judged and stated that I should be more focused on finding a career. I allowed myself to feel bad for traveling to a country that I had fought for, loved, and found so much inspiration in, simply because my path looked different from theirs.
Somehow, I blinked and I was 28 years old. I wanted to feel excited and accomplished at the thought of finishing graduate school and the decision I had made to pursue a Master’s degree. But instead, all I could focus on was not having a career.
I took a retail job for a reputable and widely known company to fill the gap until I finished school and working with the family I was nannying for. I had high hopes that my position could eventually land me a creative role in their corporate offices and once again I held my head high, vacuumed floors, washed bathrooms, and dealt with screaming women who wanted a 10% discount off a kitchen towel with hens on it. My managers hated me, clipped my wings, deemed me incompetent and worthless, and gave me bare minimum responsibilities.
This isn’t a story of pity; this is a story meant to inspire and inform with raw honesty, what it’s like not to fit the cookie cutter of what American society teaches us is important. The creative types, the ones who don’t quite see the world in black and white, and those who need a little extra soul searching to truly find what they want.
Society teaches us that who you are is what you do, and without a single, solid career path, others don’t know how to categorize you, where you fit, and what you’re worth.
Maybe you are lucky enough to do what you love, but perhaps that is just a piece of your greater being. Are teachers who love teaching solely just teachers? Is an ecstatic financial analyst simply just a financial analyst, no matter how much he adores his job? Even in having the career of our dreams, this is never all of who we are. We are sisters, mothers, daughters, wives, friends, brothers, fathers, sons, husbands…we are the sum of all our pain, our hearts, life experiences, and our characteristics as human beings. We are so much more than our careers.
Perhaps I don’t have a career yet. But what I have gained through countless rejections and painful experiences, is deep meaningful life moments which have molded me into the person I am now.
I read something recently that said that doors don’t always just open, sometimes you have to build them. So, keep building your door. Because the truth is some of us find our careers right away, some later on, and some never find it but in fact, find something greater.
Be brave, be strong, be you, and don’t be afraid if others aren’t on the same ride you are. Seek out things that bring you passion, because that is your calling. Remember that not everyone’s door will look like yours, and choose wisely those you allow to enter. Above all, remember that the flowers that grow out of season and off the beaten path are the ones that bloom longest and brightest. And all it takes is a little extra time.
About the Author:
Christina Loridas is a writer with a Master’s degree in International Relations, inscribing life and travels one cappuccino at a time. When she’s not hanging out in the Athens airport or learning the best way to shove suitcases on Rome’s metro, you can find her in the pursuit of capturing life’s beautiful moments. To read more of Christina’s work, check out her portfolio.