Dear Society: I need more time!!

Twenties

I was talking to my dad about my blog yesterday and he mentioned that he has been somewhat surprised that I don’t talk more about some of the questions I’m dealing with (re: growing up and figuring out my purpose as a working adult.) I know I’ve been bad about blogging directly about the act of ‘taking back my twenties’, but to be honest with you, it’s because I don’t feel like I’ve made a whole lot of progress (at least in the finding my niche side of things). I’ve been going through the motions of being a working adult, but I still have a bazillion career interests.

One of the reasons I went straight to graduate school is so I could prolong the exploratory period and not face the reality of choosing a job. Looking back, it might have been a good idea to take year off from school and use that time to explore, but its a little too late now:) As graduation approaches, I find myself asking the exact same questions I asked a few months before college graduation: What can I see myself doing for the rest of my life? What job would make me happy on a daily basis? What skills do I have that I really like using? And now, the new question: Shouldn’t I know what I want to do now that I have an advanced degree? Maybe I’m just stalling, but I almost feel like I’m back to square one with the career exploration process. School Psychology? It’s an amazing and rewarding career that I really like. Not to mention, it has great hours and solid pay. I’ve received an incredible education and training, and the good news is that there are a million ways I can use my skills. The bad news is that there are so many options for ways to utilize my degree that I still don’t know exactly what I want to be doing in the next couple of years. I guess that’s probably normal, but I can’t help but wonder when I might have these questions answered. Thoughts?

What I DO know:

1. I love Indian food…especially naan stuffed with deliciousness.

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2. And, I’d like this to be in my [long-term] future:

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  • Kath
    January 23, 2011 at 8:21 pm

    Awww!! I liked the surprise ending šŸ™‚

  • Veronique
    January 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Hi! I don’t comment a lot, but I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning and I thought this was a subject I had to respond to. I am also a gradute student in psychology (but in I/O), and I think that what makes this profession really great is the vast variety of jobs we can have. We don’t have to hold the same job at the same place for the rest of our lives. You don’t have to choose right now what ou want to do for the rest of your lives. You can work for the first 5 years in a high school, then move to an elemntary school when you want some change. When you’re tired of that, you can go to a hospital or open your private practice, or combine two of these. Basically you have all the choices that are opened for you, and you can decide to do what you want based upon what you want right now for the forseeable future. I think that’s the exciting part of psychology. Since there are so many possibilities and subjects of interest, you will probably never be bored with your job. You can also always have somw sort of additional training to become more specialised in a specific field (eg ADHD) and work as an expert in this field.
    Anyway, I juste wanted to let you know my opinion! Obvisouly, this is biased by what I want in my career and may not meet what you want, but it’s still something to think about šŸ™‚

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:37 pm

      Thanks for the comment (and reading since the beginning!) You make a good point about the flexibility of psychology…I guess we picked the right profession:)

  • Dean
    January 23, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    A bsc in pscyh/biology, a BA in sociology, a post grad in human resources and I still don’t know what I want to do! Thankfuly I’m a sahm for the next few years and it gives me time to figure it out.

    Ps: I like reading your blog, I’m married to a professional brewer so I’m always fascinated to read about all the various American beer.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Thanks for the comment…I’m jealous that you’re going to be a sahm AND you’re married to a brewer!!!!

  • Kelsey
    January 23, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I don’t have an answer for you or even a very helpful comment about deciding what you want to do for a career, however I do know exactly how you feel. It was a great post for me to read today because I’m feeling the same way about my “professional” life. It made me feel so much better just knowing that I’m not the only one that feels this way. So I just wanted to comment and hopefully you will feel better knowing you are far from alone.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      That def. makes me feel better:)

  • The Pancake Girl
    January 23, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    Hi there- I haven’t ever commented here, but good God haha I had to now bc you just wrote exactly what I think about every single day. Grad school was same sitch for me, and i loved every second of it. I love my current job, but I wonder constantly if this is what I’m supposed to be doing and what else I want to do. I have tons of career interests, and have often struggled to stay present since getting out of school and entering the adult world. I def think it would be helpful for you and everyone reading for you to talk about how you feel on all this.. I know I’m nervous to discuss it on my blog, but I do think it’s important.

    Anyways, hang in there, and what a cute baby!
    -Joelle (The Pancake Girl)
    http://www.joelygolightly.wordpress.com)

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      Thanks! I def. struggle to stay present too, especially knowing that I’m about to move…

  • Laura
    January 24, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I think I could eat naan every day of my life and not get sick of it!

    I remember thinking that my post-graduation life would be one long string of happy hours and fun after-work activities that I never had time to do in college. Apparently balance is a little harder than that.

    You are definitely not alone in the “what do I want to do with my life?” question. I think Davidson placed a strong emphasis on vocation, too (or maybe I just hung out with those people?), which is good in that it makes you think about how you can best contribute to the world, but tricky when you’re still not sure what that contribution will be/what it will look like.

    I always thought that my vocation/life calling/whatever you want to call it would jump out at me right after graduation and then I’d be set for the rest of my career. So far, I’m still waiting for that to happen šŸ™‚

    I’d definitely be interested in hearing more of your job searching, what-do-I-want-to-do-with-my-life thoughts, though!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:42 pm

      Mmmmm…naan. Thanks for reading and sharing your experience!

  • Miranda
    January 24, 2011 at 7:24 am

    I went through five years of university (I studied Political Science, French and Law simultaneously) thinking that I definitely didn’t want to be a lawyer ever, and that I simply wanted a degree to give some marketability to my arts degree. However – I fell into working at a law firm when I moved to Australia, simply because I needed a job and that was the qualification that I had. Two years on I’m a solicitor looking forward to specialising in family law. Like you, I’m not exactly sure that it’s exactly what I want to do forever, but I try to look at it this way: experience is experience, and the skills I learn in this career will either continue to serve me as I continue down this path, or serve me if I ever decide to move sideways. Qualifications and experience are never a bad thing and can always be spun to your advantage! Even if all you got out of a particular role was learning to work well in a team, that’s still a marketable skill.

    You seem pretty intelligent and switched on, so I think that you won’t have too much difficulty working out what you’d like to do eventually. Good luck! šŸ™‚

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks for the good luck:) I need to keep chanting: experience is experience!!!

  • Ju
    January 24, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I have no real advice for you on your job situation, just wanted to say that I loved the last picture with Matt holding the baby…Hugs to you for today, and your future…
    Judy

    • kmheld
      January 24, 2011 at 10:14 am

      I will add to the stream of similar sentiments that I find myself in your same predicament. I graduated from university a year ago, then took a year off to travel Europe and as some said, “get it out of my system.” What I’d really love is to continue traveling, but graduate school must come first.

      I understand the fear you have about going forward and not being sure what you could even accomplish with your advanced degree. But someone reminded me that no matter what, no one can take your education from you and you will always have that, even when things become overwhelming.

      Pace yourself! Thankfully, we needn’t have everything figured out immediately.

      By the way, I’ve been reading your blog since it was featured on Food Press. It’s a great, easy read and I always love the food pictures!

      • Laura
        January 24, 2011 at 10:24 am

        Thanks for the comments:) Ps- I didn’t even know my blog was on Food Press…do you know when that was/what was featured?

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:45 pm

      I appreciate the hugs!

  • Elle
    January 24, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I can completely sympathise with this – I’ve recently graduated (in a subject I decided was the wrong one half way through) and am really unsure of what to do. Or the economic situation is standing in the way of plans I do have (thanks to our new UK Prime Minister who has trebled the cost of degrees).

    I was envious of friends who had their careers mapped out, until one of my teacher friends said that she was terrified at the idea of knowing how her career was going to be for the next 40 years. I think that in some ways having everything mapped out would scare me as much as not knowing what I want to do scares me. I think adulthood is just scary full stop. My dad made me feel so much better by saying ‘I’m 66 years old and don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life, nor have I ever.’ Which showed me that you can still be extremely successful without having a grand plan.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:47 pm

      It’s def. scary to think of having the same career for the next 40 years…eek!

  • Kathy @ newlywedindc
    January 24, 2011 at 3:56 pm

    Don’t stress! I know, easier said than done. šŸ˜‰ But as the previous comments state, you are definitely not alone. Many, many, many of us go through the same thing in the post-college years. I graduated with a liberal arts degree, spent two years working and living in a series of odd places to figure out what I wanted, then got my masters. But even since getting my masters it has been a “process” of figuring out what to do, partly because my field, like yours, is broad and there are a lot of different directions one can go in (I’m a city planner). I used to wish I was one of those people who just knew what they wanted and could have a straightforward career, like a nurse or something, but now I’m happy with lots of different interests and options in life. And as someone else said, your first job doesn’t define your whole career! You can do something for a few years and then if you don’t like it, switch to a different type of employer or specialty within psych. Easier said than done, but just hang in there!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:48 pm

      Thanks! It is fun to have many different interests and options, and I’m glad I’m not alone:)

  • Cassidy
    January 24, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Not sure I’ve ever commented before, but I read all the time. I can relate to you, in fact I also started my blog to talk about the struggles of my twenties (we actually have similar blog names!), but I find myself rarely posting about my progress (or lack thereof. I made the choice to take some time off, and am now going back to school, so I don’t think there is a right way or a wrong way. In fact, I wish I had gone to graduate school right away. Oh well… I look forward to hearing about whatever your future brings.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      I’ll have to check out your blog! Thanks for reading!

  • Kerry
    January 24, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    I am 36, and I’ve never had that moment of clarity when I said “Oh yes, THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” The rest of my life is a long time!

    But I have had career successes, and times when I’ve learned a lot, and various mentors, and all of these experiences add up. My advice is not to focus on your whole life, but pick something that sounds interesting and will help you build skills that are transferrable. I think you really need to try different things to decide what’s a good fit.

    Best of luck!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:51 pm

      Thanks for the luck. I like your advice to just pick something interesting for the short term, but I still don’t know what to pick!!

  • Kristina
    January 24, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    I’m no longer in my twenties, but that was (for me) SUCH a rough time! I kept thinking that I “should” know what to do and who to be but I kept getting ‘stuck’. I also went straight to a graduate program, initially planning to do the Phd but then dropped out. That was a great decision (just getting a master’s), but it also left me unprepared for that next step – what to do, what to do… I ended up trying out lots of different options (moving around the country, worked in different fields) before returning very happily to the classroom.
    As others have said, there is no right way to figure all of that out. I have plenty of friends who followed a pretty ‘straight’ line, but others have wandered even more than I. I do think that you have to trust your gut and yourself and not worry about society’s ‘time-table for success’.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm

      Great advice, thanks! If I completely trust my gut though, I’m afraid I may find myself working at a bakery or pizza place:)

  • Stephanie S.
    January 24, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I agree with your dad– you should use this blog as a platform to discuss some of the feelings you’re having. Not only do many of us share your feeings, but it really sets your blog apart, too šŸ˜‰

    I am 27, have a masters degree, engaged… and am scared, too! Sometimes I feel as though everything is unfolding as it should and sometimes I feel as though I’m clueless, unprepared, not accomplishing enough, not having enough fun, everything!

    I have decided that this is all normal. (At least for those who are thoughtful. It does sometimes amaze me that some people never even think about these things!) The fact is that most of us are going to be working well into our sixties or seventies. Our careers are going to be forty or fifty years long, and I’m pretty confident that at 65 we won’t be doing the same thing we were at 25. Each job or experience is part of the journey.

    As for fun– I’m still working on that, too. I really make an effort to not get beaten down by work and make the effort to come out. A lot of times I find that if I force myself up and off the couch, I’m glad I went. Also, making plans in advance helps– tickets to a concert or reservations to a restaurant help get me excited to go.

    Keep writing– and thinking– about these things!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:55 pm

      I need to force myself off the couch alot too these days:) Thanks for the encouragement about blogging about my feelings!

  • Lindsey Morningstar
    January 24, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    I loved this post and I love reading everyone’s comments! I find myself in the same situation (literally wrote a post today about my flip flopping emotions), questioning over and over again if this is my road to happiness? And definitely as a fellow school psych I’m torn between doing work in the schools, being a consultant, becoming a professor, or pretty much everything in between. As you say at the end, through all this discontentment you realize what you DO want and that is priceless.

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      Funny that we are both in school psych with similar life questions and blogs!

  • Amanda(RunningOnCoffee)
    January 24, 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I took a year between undergrad and grad, which only confirmed my interest in pursuing school psych. I’m in my second year of working as a school psychologist at an elementary school, and I really like it.

    I think part of it is just seeing what kinds of jobs are even available when you graduate. Here in NJ the market was a little saturated when I graduated, and I just applied to anything that was posted…high school, middle school, vo-tech, elementary school (luckily I got some experience at all levels). I took any interviews offered to me, and went with what I perceived to be the best offer. I didn’t set out to find a job in an elementary school, it just worked out that way.

    I agree with Veronique- I’m not too concerned about getting bored with my job. I know that this is what I’m doing for now, and right now I like it, but if I get bored, I can switch to a different grade level, a different type of district… later on I could pursue teaching school psych (not so interested right now, but maybe after I have more experience) or you can always pursue becoming a supervisor/director (SO not interested in dealing with all the legal shenanigans!). I figure I will deal with other options when/if I tire of this one!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 6:00 pm

      I like your idea of just applying to everything that’s posted…hopefully, I can determine a lot more about the future if and when I get an interview!

  • nora
    January 25, 2011 at 12:28 am

    Hi Laura,

    I don’t know if we ever knew each other at Davidson but we graduated together and have a lot of mutual friends. I’ve been reading your blog for a while (I found it linked through Kath’s, which a friend of mine from home showed me–random, I know!) but haven’t commented yet.

    I really appreciate the sentiment of this blog–it’s exactly how I’ve been feeling since we graduated, and I just like reading how you try and keep a good routine and do fun things even if you’re not sure about what you’re doing professionally yet. I lived at home for a year after college and saved up money before doing an AmeriCorps program last year. Most recently I’ve moved out to the Denver area for a change of scene and some adventure but still haven’t landed a “real” job! Even though I sometimes feel bored in my daily job search/nannying routine, I try and encourage myself (and my roommates!) to go out and DO things. I fully believe that your 20s are all about enjoying yourself and adventuring and trying new things. I say “no worries” if you’re not sure what’s going on professionally for you right now–as a lot of other commenters have said, you can always switch. I think that’s gonna be a major theme for our generation.

    I really enjoy your food/beer posts, but I’d also be interested in reading about some of the questioning you do, too! Most of us are right there with you!

    • Laura
      January 25, 2011 at 6:04 pm

      I def. recognize your name, but I’m not sure if we’ve ever met! I feel so much better knowing other Davidson grads are feeling the same way because many of my friends seem to know exactly what they want to do. Thanks for reading:)

  • brined
    January 25, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I definitely hear you. I wonder the same thing most days, especially since I am choosing to go to law school at a time when virtually everyone is telling me not to go. But I work at a law firm now and I like it most of the time, so I’m sticking with the decision. The one thing that always keeps me going is this great piece of advice a mentor offered me:

    “Don’t worry about making the wrong decision. Just take advantage of opportunites as they present themseleves and have the confidence to know that you’ll be ok whatever the decision.”

    I thought I would share it since it always calms me down when I get nervous about taking the next steps in life.

    Thanks for this post and I love reading you and your sister’s blogs! Fun fact: I realized from your holiday posts that your boyfriend and I went to high school together. Small world!

    – Bri

  • Leila @ Spinach and Skittles
    January 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    I think how you are feeling is TOTALLY normal! I just finished my Master’s program and entered a completely new career in August. Who knows if I will always want to be in this field, but I know that I love what I do now šŸ™‚ You’ll figure it out, even if it takes a few attempts.

  • Elizabeth
    January 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

    I’ve never commented either on here, but have been following since the beginning. I got my bachelors and then decided to take time off and see where life takes me, see if anything really grabs at me and IF I want to go back to school for further education. At one point I started studying for the GRE, then realized a few weeks into it that I had NO idea why I was going back to school. My point is… it might not have changed anything if you did take the year off. You prolonged the time where you are in the big world without school by your side, but the feelings are all the same and you’ll go through them. šŸ™‚

    School has been over for over two years for me and I still don’t really know what I want to do with my life. When I get down on myself I always remind myself that my dad was on a specific career path. At 31 he decided to go back to school to do what he always wanted to do. He spent the next 8 years going to veterinary school, followed by a surgical residency all while he had two kids. Once he was finished with school he moved his family across the country for his new job. He is extremely successful, a young 56 year old and working hard. He is beyond happy he made that decision, but I always look at him as my dad, it seems normal that he was in school until I was 9 years old. So I remind myself of that when I get down and stress about not knowing what my niche is.

    And this got loonnnnnnng. hehe

    Best of luck girl!! And go Duke – my dad is a Dukey šŸ™‚

    • Laura
      January 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      Hi! Thank you for the comment (and for reading since the beginning!) Your Dad’s story is really cool and puts things in perspective (and fun that he’s a Dukey too:) Thanks for sharing:)