I realized today that I’ll have been at my current job for one year as of next month. I still remember the exact date I started because it was a date I was so excited and anxious about, and for that reason I think it’ll always be etched in my mind. My previous job was not at all what I expected my first post-grad job to be like: it was a tiny, family-owned publishing company that paid absolute shit and offered no benefits to speak of (not even sick days!). When I chose my major in college (Publishing, with a minor in French), I knew I would struggle to find work, but I had no idea how difficult a challenge I’d be up to. It seemed natural to choose a degree in something I had always excelled in, but what happens when what you’re good at doesn’t pay? I didn’t pursue a degree in business or marketing because I didn’t think I had it in me. I didn’t want to “sell out.” But it soon became very apparent to me that if I wanted to work a job that allowed me to make ends meet, something had to give.
In some respects, I really lucked out. I moved home with my parents in May after graduation and found a job by the end of July. It was a difficult three months full of identity crises and financial woes, but it was cake compared to some of my peers’ struggles. I was offered my first post-grad job on my birthday, no less, and started the following Monday. I was thrilled! But it didn’t take long to become fully disenchanted with the job. The morale was incredibly low. My department in particular had a revolving door. And let’s not forget that what I’d envisioned for my post-grad life was glamorous, downtown Chicago city-living, but instead I had no choice but to stay with my parents. I could barely even save on what I was paid. Needless to say, the afterhours jobhunt started almost immediately. With no experience to speak of, again I faced potential employer scrutiny. Everybody wanted to know why I was so eager to leave a job I’d just started. You can’t be very forthcoming in these admissions. Badmouthing current and past employers is not sensible.
It took me eight months to find my current job. March 7 was the starting date that was agreed upon. I then had to face the most difficult thing I’ve had to do so far in my adult life: quit. I’m bad at quitting. I feel nervous and guilty and it’s impossible to sleep the night before. Walking into your boss’s office with a resignation letter is horrifically awkward. But it had to be done. The grass was surely greener on the other side.
Now a year has gone by and I can’t believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was the new kid, and in so many ways, my eight months at my previous position feels worlds longer than the past year in my current one. Ever since I noticed the date and realized my one-year anniversary is coming up, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting. Where am I now in my life? Where did I think I’d be? What have I accomplished? What did I say I’d accomplish but didn’t follow through with? I’m realizing how routine my life has become: the time is slipping by faster because so much of it is spent commuting. My commute is double what it used to be. Just the sheer hours I spend in the car each week makes everything seem to flash by at such a faster speed.
It’s kind of trite and New Years-y, but I’m going to put into list form this past year’s accomplishments and milestones. Just for old time’s sake!
- I found a job that pays a steep 46% more than my first post-grad job (this is in no way indicative of current financial success–it’s much more a discourse on how poorly I was previously paid)
- I took a fantastic road trip to Denver and saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time–totally life-changing
- I started volunteering for a local animal rescue organization (the same one that one of my two cats came from)
- I successfully moved out of the nest (aka my parents’ house) and now live a financially-independent life
- I bought a (digital) piano!
- I have almost successfully completed two 7-week yoga classes
- I adopted a vegan lifestyle (I still have my training wheels on but the progress has been in leaps and bounds!)
And now for the things that fell by the wayside…
- I decided to go back to school for an MBA but nothing has come of that
- I told myself I’d work out at my office’s FREE gym 3 times a week but that lasted less than a month
- I’m unhappy at my current job but haven’t done anything to better my situation or find something more fulfilling
It’s hard to believe how fast time flies even when you’re not having fun. I didn’t think this would be my life when I’m knocking on 24’s door. But, it is. One day I’m going to wake up and I’ll be old. It’s time to start making the best of these roaring 20s!