As expected, my professional life hasn’t quite turned out the way I thought it would.
It never does, no matter which way the tables turn.
I’ve been officially out of college for a year (if you count the extra semester it took me to finish my second major). I scored a temporary full-time job right away, and I remember thinking, “Yes. It’s going to all work out. I’m not going to be one of those grads who can’t get a job. I’m going to make it.”
I made all kinds of plans. I established the perfect routine. I would hop on the train in the morning, spend 45 minutes writing and blogging, sometimes reading, work all day; spend another 45 minutes on the way home listening to TED talks and catching up on the news; write some more, work some more. I started graduate school, because I could afford to pay for it myself. What a feeling that was!
The thing about being hired on as part of a team to finish a project, though, is that when you’re part of a team that does really good work, really fast, the project ends. Fast. As does your temporary full-time job.
You could look at it as being punished for working hard. I don’t. I just look at it as bad luck. Not thinking far enough ahead. Getting a little too confident and comfortable, as a 22-year-old will do.
I just figured I would bounce right back. I had experience, I had writing samples. I would find an editing job, someone to write for. For the first month, I was patient. Confident. Ready.
Then one month became two, and two became four. And so on.
I’ll be completely honest with you. It’s not easy to stay hopeful or productive or happy when you’ve all of a sudden become one of those people you never thought you’d be. The graduate with a killer work ethic, a hunger to work hard and earn her place in the workforce, experience, everything you would think would grant you access to the real world, who just couldn’t get that second interview. Who just didn’t quite have what it took to be enough.
I can’t speak for anyone else in this situation, no matter how many of you are out there reading this. But I can tell you what I did to cope. I started writing. A lot. Knowing it was going to cost me a lot of time and earn me nothing. Knowing it was going to get me some writing samples and fill out my already cramped resume. Hoping it would matter. Eventually.
I’m still going at it. Writing, collecting experience, learning, giving myself the credibility I need to turn around and help you gain that experience and learn, too.
Why am I telling you all this? Why the back story?
Because you have dreams, just like I do. You might be good at a lot of things and capable doing anything and everything that will earn you a spot among the adults, in the land of the grown-ups. But there’s only one thing you really want to do. You want to write. You want someone to pay you for your words, because it’s hard and it takes time and you’ve practiced so many hours, so many years. Even though you know, realistically, it’s not going to be easy, or even possible, it’s what you want.
Here I am honest. I’ll do anything and everything I can to help you succeed. With each day that passes I find myself more and more knowledgeable of how this industry works. People are always going to give you “that look” when you tell them you’re going to be a writer. Isn’t that what everyone wants to do? It seems like that, at times. It feels like that, when you think to yourself, “Yes, I nailed that interview, I nailed those writing samples,” and it still doesn’t work out.
We all have to struggle. We all have to have those moments when we start to doubt things are ever going to get better. Even when we don’t realize it, we’re constantly drawing strength from those moments. I could have given up a long time ago. I could have said, “Forget it,” and stopped writing and blogging until I “had my life together.”
I still don’t have my life together. That hasn’t stopped me from writing anyway. Even if nothing ever works out, even if I’m always just going to be a writer on the side, ignored, unappreciated, at least I’m still, sort of, doing exactly what I want to do when I take a break from “real” adulting.
If you look closely, you’ll see that one thing all successful writers, creators, entrepreneurs have in common. They had a dream, and one way or another, they made it work. You will make it work. We will all make it work.
It’s a strange place to be. Not knowing where I fit, not seeing what’s on the other side of the hill. Wondering if this year will be just like the last, or if it will be better.
But inspiration comes from all kinds of different places in life. Even when nothing seems to be going right, there is one thing we can still control. The story in our heads. The characters we create. The words we made up, because we’re just wired that way. That’s just how we are.
Someday that will pay off. Someday, this will all be worth it.
Keep writing. Promise me. And I’ll promise you.
Image courtesy of matryosha/flickr.com.
Meg is the managing editor at College Lifestyles magazine, a guest contributor with Lifehack and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine. She is an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner and has also written for Teen Ink and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter.