My least favorite question that I get asked by friends and family members when I tell them that my contract with my current job is over at the end of June and I’m looking to make a career change is, “So… What is your plan? What kind of jobs are you looking at now?”
I don’t know if it’s the noncommittal millennial in me, but as soon as this question is proposed, I just shut down. I hate this question so much because I can never give people the answer that I know they’re expecting. They want me to stay I have a five point strategy. They want me to say I care deeply about a 401(k) retirement fund and health benefits and stability. (I do actually care about health benefits.) They want me to say what we are conditioned to say: I am looking for X job in Y industry to work at for Z years. They want me to stop being so imaginative and creative and idealistic… and settle into firm, reality-based adulthood. They want me to settle.
The problem is… well, there are lots of problems with this.
First, I don’t have a plan. Well, I don’t have the kind of plan they are expecting. I want to work in any combination of the media, entertainment, communications, and/or creative fields. My work experience is primarily in youth development and public health. Yes, finding a new job will be difficult. Yes, I have thought about that (and think about it everyday). No, I am not willing to settle for something else.
Second, for the past three years, I have mainly looked at jobs within the non-profit world, focusing on youth programming. I know non-profit youth programming in a Biblical way. We are very intimate. Although I’ve always wanted to work within a company that better utilized my writing and creative passion/skills/talent, I never really thought much about what that would look like manifested in a search for a 9-to-5 job. So, I’m not quite sure what type of job I am looking for. I know I’m looking to work for a company or organization that contributes meaningfully to people’s lives and our larger world. I’m looking to work for a company that has a work environment and culture that I would fit well within. I’m looking for work that is engaging, challenging, rewarding, and educational. I’m looking for work that would allow me to truly use my abilities and skills to get things done successfully. I’m looking for work that I won’t get sick of in a year or two years.
Third, I am not 100% sure the things I want and how I envision my life fit within the same structure of the 9-to-5 office gig. Do I want health benefits? Absolutely. Do I want to be 65 without any financial ability to take care of myself? Definitely not. Do I want to security that comes from getting a decent paycheck every two weeks? Duh! But in the past couple months, I’ve been really wondering if the “normal” way of being an adult and having a grown-up life is the way I want to live. And I’ve been trying to figure out where this pressure came from to live this certain way?
I definitely never want to disappoint my parents. I don’t want them to feel like I can’t take care of myself, so they’re obligated to take care of me. Or have them feel like they raised a daughter who is irresponsible or immature. And I’ve never been one for “The Struggle is Real” kinda life. As I love to announce to the homies, I’m a bougie bitch. I don’t expect things to be rose petals and unicorn magic forever. But if one does not have to eat ramen or live in a studio apartment with an air mattress instead of a real bed, I’m all for the life that is struggle-lite.
I feel like there are options if you want to be a responsible grown-up, while still pursuing the things you love and are good at? Right? That’s a thing! People do that! But it seems like the possibility of it happening are slim to none most days. And that sucks. Because I don’t want to settle. I don’t want to bunker down into a life that was prescribed to me, because it was the “safe” choice or the “practical” choice.