During a play date this morning, my two friends and I were discussing careers and how none of us have one (OTHER THAN RAISING OUR CHILDREN WHICH WE KNOW IS THE GREATEST AND MOST REWARDING JOB ON EARTH, haters), and how none of us have a clue what we should be doing. Which is a cute concept when you are 19, but we are all in our 30s, and just like short shorts and beer bongs, it just doesn’t work at our age.
I’m at a real sticky place in my life right now. I don’t even know if sticky is the right word. Messy? Befuddling? Cloudy? I dunno. But it’s not desirable, whatever it is. I was let go yet again from my latest job a couple of weeks ago, and while it sucks to be facing the thought of job hunting AGAIN, I am very relieved. It wasn’t a good fit for either of us, and after two stints in the social media marketing world in the past year, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have ZERO interest in making that a life-long career. It’s a shame, because really, I love social media. I have fun on it, I like participating in it as a user and a consumer, and I believe in its power in today’s business and personal world. But I want to stay on THIS side of the Facebook page, I know now, and want to stay away from the other end.
So at least of ALL the careers in the world, I can check that one off. Progress?
My background is in journalism, specifically newspapers, more specifically page design and copy editing. I was good at that. I enjoyed it. I loved being in a newsroom. There’s not a weirder group of people in the world, outside of maybe magicians or bird enthusiasts, than a newspaper staff. Shockingly, I fit right in. The police scanner screeching in the background, the furious clicking at a keyboard and the occasional outbursts of some of the raunchiest cussing you’ve ever heard was the soundtrack of my mid-20s. I’ve driven through a hurricane to get a paper out. I’ve been at work til 5 a.m. waiting on election results. I was there on 9/11, barely a month into my first real job, and it made me feel like I was a part of something huge.
I’ve also worked Christmas and Thanksgiving and New Year’s, and more weekends than I care to remember. I got off work at 1 a.m. I made just enough money to be functionally poor. But when I switched to the Lifestyles department so I could work the day shift, I was never more miserable. Breaking news would happen and I was left formatting a recipe page for the food section. The Pope died and I was editing news briefs about celebrity birthdays. It felt empty and hollow, and I knew that if I couldn’t be happy working days, and I couldn’t fathom starting a family working nights, I had to jump ship. So I did.
And now, years later, I’m still floating around aimlessly, looking for my port. (God, enough metaphors.)
I’ve done communications writing for a community college, but lost that position due to the recession. I’ve worked for a leading local PR firm, but lost that position after clientele dried up. I sold Estee Lauder at the mall, which was shockingly rewarding at times, but the drama of working with that many spackled and shimmery women was too much for me to handle.
So here I am again. 36 years old, and no clue what I want to be when I grow up. And I don’t think I’m alone.
My friends today commented that after working for a while and then leaving jobs due to kids or cut backs, going back means we see things differently than we did the first time we entered the work force. First of all, the stakes are way different. I know for me, I want to work outside the home but I want the time I spend away from my family to be meaningful. I want some flexibility but am not afraid to work full-time. I want to be challenged and guided, and want to grow my strengths.
My friend Diana, who has 3 kids and a background in non-profits, knows she wants to do something creative and to be her own boss. Her two main interests — photography and cosmetology — require going back to school, however, and that is a daunting prospect for her, and for myself.
I often regret my degree in Communications, only because it was never something I felt passionate about. The first time I’d ever even heard of a degree in communications was from our high school chorus’s pianist, who was at the time in grad school (which meant he was SUPER worldly and knew EVERYTHING, according to 17-year-old me) and who told me on a field trip my senior year that “you should major in communications so you can have a talk show one day. You could be the next Oprah!” Now, remember, this was the 90s, so the hierarchy of the world at that time was basically The Pope, Bill Clinton and Oprah. My eyes lit up at the thought of spending my life sitting on a comfortable couch interviewing celebrities, so I was all for it.
I got to college, though, and was overwhelmed by ALL THE CHOICES. I wanted to be ALL OF THE THINGS. A teacher! A therapist! A sociologist! But then I was like “ew, college math is hard” and then I was like “OMG, college science is even harder,” so a Bachelor of Arts it was. Basically, my junior year I HAD to declare a major, so I was like “meh, Mass Comm seems alright…” so my overall-wearing self ended up there. Real inspiring.
I did well in my classes, but at graduation I still couldn’t have told you what I was going to do. I had never stepped foot in a newspaper’s office. Had no clue how one worked. I knew I didn’t want to be a reporter, but that was about it. I mean, I literally have never had a career goal. How is that possible?
What now, then? A few people are telling me “You should WRITE!!!” and I’m like “I totally should but I don’t know how to make that a job!!” because believe it or not, no one pays me for churning out this garbage. I’m looking into some freelance stuff, but honestly, it’s overwhelming and I don’t even know where to start, so I tend to just not do anything, which is MEGA helpful.
Anyone else having a career crisis? Or ever started over? What tips do you have? And do you want to hire me???