Sneak Preview from the Bare Issue: I Thought I Would Have Everything Figured Out
by Laura Sharp
The secret’s out. I, Laura Elizabeth Sharp, don’t have life figured out at the age of 27.8 years. Maybe I would understand my true calling after I graduated from university and framed that hard-earned degree over my cheap yet substantial-looking Ikea desk. Maybe, just maybe, I would “go confidently in the direction of [my] dreams” as Henry David Thoreau put it, upon landing my first full-time job. After all, I would be able to support my Anthro addiction with an actual salary whilst being able to drop my very own business card into the free meal giveaways at my favorite restaurants (#winning).
Believe me when I say I wish — with all my heart — that life was simpler. Newsflash: it’s not. Bigger newsflash: I’m learning that it’s more fun this way.
It’s been five years since I graduated from university and landed that full-time job. The keys to adulthood include (but are not limited to) maintaining family relationships, defining community outside of college, determining how to avoid getting swept up in the corporate ladder mentality, and coming up with a foolproof plan to persuade myself to work out( which remains largely unchecked on my to-do list).
One thing that I am learning, however, is to appreciate the process – the murky water, the ever-morphing five-year plan while appreciating the opportunity to simply be.
What do I mean by “be?” I believe that a good deal of adulthood is spent unlearning one’s past and building up one’s true identity. For me, my undergraduate major was chosen largely out of expectations from myself and others. To build my true identity, I had to break down the walls of self-imposed restraints. A relationship-oriented, Type B personality like myself was destined to discover that an occupation in the oil and gas industry in a corporate setting – the profession I chose after graduating – was not my dream career.
This is how I explained to my previous employer that I would be leaving the company after five years of service to pursue my master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling in another state. It was nerve-racking yet thoughtfully planned, adventurous, and full of hope. Even though I was not necessarily pursuing my passion at the time, those five years of employment at my previous occupation were essential for me. It was there I learned that I love people and desire to talk with them about life and hardship rather than upcoming training seminars. I quickly found out that my deep-seated yearning for helping others would never be satisfied by creating financial models for my boss when he was hard-pressed for time.
Now I ask, what is it that’s keeping you from chasing your dreams? Wherever you are in life, know that you are exactly where you should be. Know that even if you aren’t in an ideal job/relationship/etc., you are currently gaining invaluable skills and experiences that are molding you into someone who will be emboldened for their next pursuit. Take time to explore your interests and consider new ones. Are you stuck living in others’ expectations for yourself?
So here I am, approximately three months fresh out of my last day at my corporate job and less than one month into counseling school. Is it frightening? Yes. Is it worth it? Most definitely.