This post should have been written early last month, but considering I was over my head in wedding stuff and cruise prep, it’s easy to see how it slipped by me. But last month, May 6th to be exact, I celebrated my one year anniversary of being a college graduate.
Graduating from college was a Big Deal for me. I was one of the first people in my family to do it (the first of the cousins!) and it was a long and arduous process that had seemingly no ending in sight. Changing majors felt like a huge back step, but it was the only logical step I could see for my future. Instead of graduating in December 2008, it took me 3-and-a-half more years to actually walk across the stage to receive my diploma.
But I don’t regret it. I’m happy I chose to major in journalism because it afforded me the opportunity to hone the one skill I should have been using in the first place: writing. It took me just 3 months after graduating college to find a job. I consider myself extremely blessed to have found a position (and a good one!) so quickly but I put in a lot of time and effort into my job search. (I had a goal to apply to five different jobs every day and I made that goal at least 3-4 times a week.)
I’ve been at my job for 10 months. (Time flies!) I’ve learned so much about myself through the process of this job. I’ve learned about what I desire from my career, what I need to feel fulfilled in a job, and the best way to handle criticism. The people I work with are some of the smartest, funniest people I’ve ever been around and I can honestly say I don’t dread the end of the weekend. The work I get to do is different and interesting, life-changing on some days. I have learned that I don’t mind the mundane, clerical tasks but I also love challenging my mind with something new and tough. I have learned when to keep my mouth shut and when to stand up for myself. And I feel so darn lucky to work under a woman who not only puts a smile on my face but has taught me more than I ever thought possible about the marketing business.
This sounds like a “I’m moving on” post, but it’s not. I’m not moving on just yet. I still have a lot to learn and my job has changed so much in just ten months (I’m getting to do more of the online, techy stuff which thrills me!) that I’m excited to see what happens from here. (Plus, hi, #tootsiegram? Where would the Internet be without that?)
But it’s been over thirteen months now and in those thirteen months, I have learned a lot of lessons:
- I generally enjoy the 9-to-5. One of the more interesting things I’ve learned in the past year is how much I enjoy the 9-to-5 office work environment. Aside from a short stint as an office manager (3 months) and my internship, I’ve never experienced the office life and in both instances, the days would drag on and on. I’ve found that when I’m busy and enjoying what I’m doing, the days go by super fast. With the way my job is, I’m always doing something completely different from day to day so it doesn’t feel mundane. Maybe it’s coming from a crazy job as a preschool teacher where things were always loud and busy and insane or maybe it’s just my style (maybe both!), but the 9-to-5 suits me well.
- I don’t need to have it all figured out just yet. Or even in ten years. I spent a lot of those 6-8 months after college in a downward spiral of negativity, wondering why my life didn’t feel as put together as those around me did. There were weeks upon weeks where my job wasn’t fun anymore. I didn’t feel the passion. I felt like a failure because here I was, twenty-four years old, and still clueless about my life’s path. I felt as if I had to have it figured out. I had to know my Five-Year Plan. I needed to be more ambitious, tackle more big tasks at my job, and exceed everyone’s expectations. And when I couldn’t do that, when other coworkers were given those tasks and my panic attacks grew more frequent than ever before, that’s when I had to take a step back. I was convinced I was having a quarterlife crisis. But was it a quarterlife crisis? Or was I simply placing too much pressure on myself? I’m twenty-four. I don’t need to know exactly who I am. I don’t need to have my life all figured out. All I need is to live my life. Take chances. Keep pushing myself. Don’t let myself get too comfortable. Forget about life plans and time tables and what I should be doing at this point in my life. Just live my life.
- Accepting criticism is getting easier… and so is dealing with scary, intense people. I have always had a problem accepting criticism. It came to a big head when I had to read my fiction aloud in one of my lit classes my last semester of college. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and hearing the criticism was tough to handle. But through that and through instances through the past year, my skin is getting tougher. I’m getting better at handling critiques of my work and not letting them beat me up. And I think that’s all a part of growing up and becoming more comfortable in your own skin. I’m getting there. It’s been a slow process but I’m getting there. Every critique I’ve been given has been given to propel me to being better.
- I enjoy working out after work more than I enjoy working out before work. There’s something about moving my body after a long day sitting at a desk that calls to me. I know most people are morning worker-outers but I have found that I a) like sleeping in and b) feel more motivated to work out after work. I put more effort into my workouts in the afternoon and quite frankly, after being stuck inside all day, it feels good to get out in the sunshine and heat. Sure, it’s easier to talk myself out of workouts but it also gives me time to plan out the perfect afternoon workout.
- Working in a casual environment is exactly my pace. “Wear clothes!” is what the owner of the company said about our dress code at one meeting. I spend the majority of my day without my shoes on. I could wear jeans and a casual top to work every day if I wanted to. (I don’t, but I could.) I love how casual my office is. I’m actually not sure I could work at a more corporate, business-professional office! And not only is the dress code casual, the environment around the office is casual. There’s a lot of joking around and I feel completely comfortable around my coworkers. This is not something that’s easy for me and while it did take me a while to open up, I’m in a good place right now.
- I need to deal with my anxiety. This has been a very tough year for me, anxiety-wise. I spent the majority of my year battling panic attacks, anxiety-ridden thoughts, and a mind that would not shut off no matter what I did. In the past few months, my anxiety has gotten better, the panic lessening, and I feel more in control. But it’s still at a point that I realize it’s affecting my day-to-day life and I need to find a way to control it. I’m talking about therapy and coping mechanisms. I don’t want to keep silent about all the ways my anxiety has taken hold of my life (especially as it relates to my job) because while I spent a long time convinced I was the only person in the world who ever had thoughts like the ones I had, I know that isn’t the truth. Believing that for so long caused me to keep silent and try to handle it on my own. And while the small steps I have taken to handling it on my own have helped, it’s still an issue.
- Never regret your gut instinct. I think this is such an interesting lesson to learn. And not always a fun one, but I’m learning my gut is never wrong. And when my gut tells me something doesn’t feel right, it probably means it isn’t right. When my heart feels unrest, when I don’t feel at peace, that’s when it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation at hand. Find out what’s causing this unrest and fix the situation. Always trust your gut.
Have you learned any lessons about yourself in the past year?