I’m Not What I Thought I’d Be When I Graduated College

This blog post is the third installment of a collaborative 5-part series entitled The Mother Within. Start at the beginning here.

Image by Kaela Rodehorst Photography

I graduated college in California in 2008, just as the economy was beginning its downward slide. I loved the design degree I was earning and had numerous interviews throughout the state that would hopefully jump-start my career in the field. But one-by-one they called me back to cancel the interviews. As the economy crashed their workload disappeared almost overnight. No work meant there was no need for any new employees. A few months later I was on my way to living in Louisiana.

 

I got an internship and I was happy to have work. But I still needed another part-time job to make ends meet, and the internship was in a field that wasn’t exactly related to my degree. I had big college dreams of what I should be doing, and my heart wasn’t in the internship.

As I hunted for other jobs that provided a more creative outlet I learned there is always a give and take with every job. Terrible schedules and lower pay were standard trade-offs, but I was satisfied to be using the creativity I spent five years cultivating with a college degree price tag. But those hours and days spent working while friends were enjoying their Saturdays eventually wore on me. Five years later and a child added to the mix made the juggling nearly impossible. I didn’t care about the degree I had anymore. I didn’t care about using the creativity in my job. All I wanted was to work 8-5, Monday-Friday, spend the weekends with my family, and know that I could pick up my son from daycare. How times had changed.

It sounds like I gave up on my career. Like I gave up on the dreams I created when I began college at 17 years old. And for a long time I felt like that. Did I really spend five years in college for this? To be doing this when I could do so much more in my career? But as time has gone on I’ve come to understand that my career and future plans are always going to be changing. My hopes and dreams at 17 are different from what they are at 27. And from what they will be at 47. Just because I planned it doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. And just because some of my plans aren’t playing out right now doesn’t make me a failure.

One of our amazing contributors said it best:

“You have to be willing to find concessions you can live with. We can aspire to many things but not EVERY thing.”

So I’m whole-heartedly choosing what I want most right now. I want to put time with my family first. I’m still working and slowly building a career, but I’m choosing family and flexibility because I know I can’t do it all right now. My 17- year-old dreams of my career might not be playing out right now, but there’s still time. For now, I think what I have is even better.

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