Whenever I celebrate a birthday, I craft a list of goals I want to accomplish that year based on how old I’m turning. In case you’re wondering, yearly bucket lists are the way to go – they’re doable and keep me in check. Last year, I made 24 goals for 24 years. I’m less than a month away from turning 25, so I thought it would be fun to look back and see how I did.
Some of the goals were whimsical and easy, like flying a kite for the first time and sleeping under the stars. Others I failed miserably at, like sending handwritten birthday cards. Still, I somehow managed to complete a good amount, including giving up social media for a month (note to self: do this again in the near future!) and cooking five new recipes.
But the one I secretly cared most about was #17: Find a job that I’m passionate about.
Throughout college I studied journalism and enthusiastically wrote for magazines and newspapers, but everyone kept saying, “There’s no money in journalism. Go somewhere else.” So after graduation, I did in fact end up going somewhere else: marketing. Marketing intimidated me, especially the thought of interacting with angry clients. On top of that was all the jargon I needed to wrap my head around: ROI, CPM, KPI, WTF? I dove right in and learned as I went, making plenty of mistakes along the way.
Isn’t that always how it often goes? My first job shaped me immensely, and I’ll always be grateful towards the people who mentored me along the way.
But after getting laid off – very unexpectedly – I took a full-fledged break from marketing.
In short, the break was awesome. It was great to hit the pause button, slow down and reflect on what I had actually been doing for the last three years. Being unemployed was jarring at first, but it ultimately allowed me to clear my head, travel a bunch, and work on this blog. I found joy in little discoveries and pleasures: learning how to knit, practicing yoga in the afternoon, exploring unfamiliar neighborhoods in New York, and grabbing coffee with friends in the middle of the day. I was able to learn for the sake of learning and even take a class on storytelling.
Best of all, I got to travel: to Maine, Seattle, Portland, Costa Rica, Amsterdam, Prague, Berlin, and Copenhagen. I made good on my promises to visit friends. I even got to travel with my mom in Europe.
Taking some time for myself was crucial in helping me achieve #17. It helped me job hunt at a comfortable pace and gravitate towards companies and positions that I truly found interesting.
It made me improve all the other areas of my life so that the absence of a career didn’t make me feel less than anyone else; in turn, I realized that a great job wouldn’t make me better than anyone else, either.
As of this week, I’m a content producer for Business Insider. I’m writing, researching, and interviewing again – and working with brands. In a roundabout way, I rediscovered my passions, but I also get to apply everything I’ve learned since “straying” from them. It’s been a tough journey, wrought with a lot of self-doubt and am-I-good-enoughs, but I’m happy to be here.
I’m so thankful for: my friends, family, and boyfriend for rooting for me during the most uncertain time in my life. All the wonderful, carefree spirits I met while traveling. Everyone who told me to keep my chin up and trust that great things were just around the corner.
They were right.
P.S. If you’re currently looking for a job, be sure to check out 50 Ways to Get a Job. It’s a fantastic and unconventional resource.