A couple weeks ago, I celebrated my three year anniversary as a New York City resident. I marvel at both how quickly the time has flown and how much has happened in my life, and the world, since my move to the city.
In the last several months, I have also come to terms with an intimidating idea:
I am farther from knowing what I want to do in my career now than I was three years ago (and that’s okay).
Earlier this month I was chatting with a friend/mentor about the transition from college into post-grad life. We agreed that one of the biggest hurdles we both faced was adapting to the lack of a long-term plan in our adult lives. College provides you with an advisor for all four years, a guide for what kind of classes you should take, internships you should accept, extracurriculars you should get involved in. Your advisor is the safety net to making sure your life stays on track. You might not always feel like you need them, but it’s nice to know they’re there.
Fast forward a few years out of school and everything is far less clear cut. You know you’re on some path to building a career but who’s to say it’s the right one? Rather than being spoon-fed the direction your life is meant to go, you must proactively seek out those answers and piece together a plan for yourself. Three years ago, I was certain about moving to New York and getting a job as a graphic designer. Now, I am still certain about New York, but less sure about what the next phase looks like. This can be either exciting or daunting depending on the day.
I know that the best thing I can do for myself right now is alleviate as much internal judgment from the process as possible. All too often I let the doubtful voices dominate the space in my head:
You’ll never figure it out.
You might have achieved some early success, but you’ll never get back to that point.
Your friends are judging you for not having a plan.
You don’t know what you want because you aren’t motivated or driven enough to have figured it out.
While I am still working out my direction, I am not completely lost. The experiences that make up the last three years also help inform what I want out of the next. Now, I just need to find the courage, patience and resolve to get there. Where “there” is remains to be seen, but I will try to enjoy the road ahead until I find it.