I’m 25 years old, I have a masters degree, and work in what is considered to be a “great” firm. From the outside in I would probably be considered fairly successful in my chosen profession, but I feel completely lost and unhappy.
I know I probably need to leave this profession, but all of my qualifications make me feel trapped in this job or at least something in this area of business. Any advice for someone looking to make a complete change in jobs or on how to figure out what type of career would fulfill me?
I’m okay with some classic Jule the Bee tough love.
Quarter Life Crisis
Dear “Quarter Life Crisis,”
Lost and unhappy. Two words that no one wants to feel, and yet we all have at one point or another. Guess what, buttercup? It’s not gonna be the last time you feel this way. It’s probably not your first time either. If it is, then “Hi! Welcome to the land of the living.” So sit down, if you must, with your favorite notebook and pen, go ahead and create that pros and cons list, but my guess is, you already know the answer.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and guess that at 25 years young there is a good chance that you’re still unmarried, have no kiddos, and that you’re living your best single life. That means, it’s just you accountable for you. And that means there is nothing holding you back except for yourself.
My first job out of college was safe. I secured it right after graduation, then traveled throughout Europe with friends with a relaxed heart and mind knowing that it waited for me upon my return. I then eased into my new life in NYC with a steady paycheck and regular 9-5 hours. I hated it. I wasn’t tortured; I was just bored out of my 22 year old blond skull. It didn’t feed me creatively; it left me cold and wanting way more.
It’s awful to go to work and hate your day to day. Even scarier? Not doing anything about it. If you are actually living your life, you are going to be constantly switching gears. There is no better gift in this life than to have the freedom to say “I’m changing my mind” and then actually take the steps to do just that.
So while I worked my mindless job from 9-5 Monday through Friday, I enrolled in culinary school at night. I was exhausted. I was exhilarated. I was alive. I was creatively stimulated and then, I switched gears again.
I’m not suggesting that you jump ship if you can’t pay your rent without it, I am suggesting, however, that you stop viewing yourself as being backed into a corner. It sounds like your education and job experience is impressive and extends beyond what you are currently doing. While I wound up only using my culinary degree for a short stint in catering, the skill set that it brought to the table extended well beyond a Viking range and helped to secure my first job as a celebrity personal assistant, then my second, then my third. Professionals recognize other professionals and calculated risks are admired by those with true success under their belts. Successful individuals know that success is never a straight line. It involves risk. It involves participating in “The Forever Game.” Figuring everything out is a forever game. Again and again and again and again.
On a breezy, sun drenched Sunday May morning, I sat in my apartment at my little wrought iron table that faced the courtyard of my building on West 74th Street. Slowly I combed through the classified section of “The New York Times,” felt tip pen in hand, I drew thick black circles around anything that caught my attention.
“High profile celebrity seeks detail oriented, meticulous individual for second desk assistant position…”
“The Forever Game.” My move. I jumped and the net caught me.
People ask me all the time, “How did you become a celebrity personal assistant?” And I tell them honestly that I kinda fell into it. I certainly didn’t major in art history to become one, I didn’t go to culinary school to find myself on movie sets for weeks, sometimes months at a time. I created opportunities based on my interests; in turn, opportunities found me because I chose to stand in an open doorway with a storm brewing on the other side of it. After all, 46 years ago I was born during a tornado in Atlanta and I’ve always found those grey-green churning skies right before a storm far more interesting than the soft pale blue ones that follow.
So jump, baby girl! I believe you’ll catch yourself.