Call it a third-life-crisis, call it my up-teenth existential crisis, call it a perfectly normal thing that most people also feel... I am not totally certain what I'm quote, "doing with my life." I am living it, I know that much. I am just not entirely certain of what direction I'm headed. I am moving forward (I hope) but other than putting one foot in front of the other, I don't have much of a plan and I certainly don't have a map.
Some people go to graduate school with a rock-solid x + y = z plan and to them, I tip my hat. I left what was, by many measures, my dream job to pursue my master's in business administration (MBA) so it's not like I got here by accident. But all I knew when I left my job was that it was the right time, the right off-ramp, the right next move. I didn't have moves 2 through one hundred figured out. I also know I'm not the only one (holler) so this post is for those of us who are figuring it out as we go (and those who are making the rest of us look bad by faking it).
It is so hard to admit to people that I don't know what I want to do next.
I worked for seven years before going back to school so it's not like I'm starting from scratch. But in graduate school (or at least MBA programs) it's not a totally safe space to explore options. Job postings are starkly delineated by job function and most clubs, classes, and even social groups are focused on particular industries or functions. "Quick! Pick something!" is the message you get from day one and, honestly, it freaked me out a bit. I had been warned against the "herd mentality" of business school but I was far from home, family, friends, and anything that felt certain.
So I picked something, I ran with it, and then I found myself in the middle of interviews for summer internships thinking "wait, do I even want to do this?" The answer was no but hoofing it back down the path and finding myself at a very familiar cross-roads didn't feel great. But here I am.
Some days I feel pretty good about this career adventure that I'm on. Other days I desperately want someone (Hillary? Leslie Knope?) to tell me what to do next. And then scoop me up in their loving embrace and poof, set me down right where I'm supposed to be. In my last job I was quite good at keeping a long-term vision in mind as I executed on the daily, tactical stuff. This is much harder for me to maintain in my personal life. I'm also lacking a lot of that daily busy-work that keeps most of your brain occupied so as not to fall into a "what am I even doing?" spiral. This is tough because I spend a lot more time going 'round and 'round on questions like "what is my purpose in life?" but also a blessing because I get to spend some time considering "what is my purpose in life?" That's a gift, right?
Some of the best career (and life) advice I've ever received was simply this: follow what you love and what gives you energy. And also this very woo-woo gem: allow yourself to just float in the universe for a while.
So if you need me, that's what I'll be doing.