In search of direction

June 26, 2009 at 2:21 pm | Posted in life, Planning | Leave a comment
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I am a girl with no direction, no certainty about her passions, dreams, what she likes or wants to do in her life. In short, I am a girl who needs to figure herself out.

In thinking about this, I am brought to examine myself a bit more closely. When surrounded by good friends, I spend the majority of my time with them. My friends are my life, I love being with them and enjoy my time best when spent hanging out with them. However, I’ve come to realize that when I’m away from friends, I focus on myself, develop skills or hobbies, and overall just get more accomplished. I can think of two really strong examples.

In seventh grade I moved to Cleveland, OH. I hated it. My first year, I made few friends and virtually never ventured out of the house to do things with people unless it was a school project. While there was a lot of misery in this time, I did also accomplish a lot. I learned basic HTML. I built a couple websites and got pretty good at site layout and (what would now be very basic) graphic design. PaintShop Pro was a close friend. I did a lot of writing, reading, and probably a lot of other things that I now can’t remember. However, with the end of seventh grade I made friends and soon “got a life.” I kept up with many of my interests, but in time they fell more and more by the wayside, and most interests or hobbies I picked up after then didn’t last as long and were never as strongly pursued with much dedication. Learning guitar, restyling old clothes (“fashion”), discovering new music (“A&R”), were just a few hobbies/interests that only made it so far but never received enough passion or dedication from my busy-with-a-social-life self.

Fast forward to the summer after my freshman year. College was full of fun new experiences and incredible friends. Back home in Cleveland, I still hung out with approximately one of my old high school friends. This left lots of “me” time. I worked full-time at a paid internship in the advertising department of a local newspaper. I took two summer classes. And I started learning Italian, read a ton of books, and lost all my freshman fifteen and then some. I ate healthy, always walked for a half hour on my lunch breaks, did at least an hour on the treadmill almost every night (while reading or studying Italian or microeconomics, of course!), and often played basketball or even ran (yes ran!) around my neighborhood (I don’t do running, FYI).

Fast forward again and it is almost July, almost two months since I’ve graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in mass communications. Advertising…not a field in high demand right now, not to mention one I was never sure I wanted to enter in the first place anyway. I have various half-though-through plans banging around in my brain, but no certainty. None at all. About anything.

I have a degree. I have a (thank goodness) place to stay with my parents. I have a Swedish boyfriend who leaves for California in one week, whom I will see for one week more in California, and who will then return to Sweden, with another chance to be with each other again TBD. And it feels like it all lies on me. On what I choose.

I know the “logical” thing, the thing most people would tell me to do, would be to start working. Find jobs or internships, try them, figure out what you like and don’t like. The thing is, especially now, even finding a job or internship, let alone getting it, is bordering on impossible. And I’m just really not sure if the typical 9-5 office job world is really right for me. Yes, I know I must sound so Gen Y right now, but I really want to do something I like, something I’m passionate about. And I want to see the world. I don’t want to hate my life or regret wasting my early years of independence. I want to live, and I want to enjoy it.

So I keep coming back to travel. These next six months I will be all on my own again. Living in Cleveland without any “friend-ly” distractions. That’s six months to work and save. Six months to reflect and research. Yes, I can still use that time to research jobs and evaluate myself, to learn new things and new skills and to further my own personal development. I can work on my Spanish, maybe take a course in graphic design or writing or whatever I discover to be a good investment in myself. And I can plan. Plan a trip. A trip around the world, for anywhere from 6 months to a year.

The more I think about it, the more I feel that this is how I could really discover myself: my interests, my passions, my skills, my faults, my strengths, my true thoughts and feelings. It would be the challenge of a lifetime, depending on myself, being totally independent. I would be forced to be more confident, more responsible and self-reliant, more outgoing. I would be forced to develop my abilities in language and communication, as well as my organization skills. It wouldn’t be all flat-out travel either. I’ll volunteer, maybe in my research even find a real working or internship position. Or even work on a farm or in a hostel. I’ll meet all kinds of people, make connections, learn even more about diversity and cultural and intercultural relations. Who knows, maybe I will meet a future boss or business partner along the way.

Maybe I will discover my next step in life or my true passion or calling. Maybe I will just come back with a lot of new stories and experiences and even more to sort through and figure out. But I would be alright with that. At least I would know that I did it. That I went after what I wanted and dreamed of, that I pulled it all off. And I know that I would come back happy with my decision and full of a joy and a self-confidence that I always come back from traveling with. I’ll have done something real, and I can’t imagine that, after the build-up I will have to go through to get there, I wouldn’t appreciate every second of the experience to the fullest extent.

I think I’ve convinced myself, though the teaching in Spain (Ibiza, I believe) still calls at me with its “I’m more logical!” argument—not to mention I’m sure my dad would much rather me choose that option and in the end it would probably look better on a traditional resume. I’m still confused and conflicted. But if I sit and listen to myself, deep down, I know which I really desire. I still have some time, so I guess it still rests at: we’ll see.

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