“What do you want to be when you grow up, Erin?”
*Insert bullshit answer because I had zero clue*
Isn’t selecting a career a funny thing? Errr….I suppose it’s not funny, but at the same time it is. How are you supposed to know what you want to do for the REST OF YOUR LIFE when you’re 18 years old? To me, that doesn’t even make sense. I know there are plenty of people who do—people who know from age 4 that they wanted to be a doctor/chef/writer/engineer etc.—but I was never one of those people.
My mom and dad both worked in journalism/public relations, and I enjoyed writing, so naturally I decided to major in public relations because they did it and I didn’t really know what else to major in. Yeah, PR sounds good, I could do that. I had three internships, though none of them were overly exciting. I wrote a few press releases and posted on Facebook sometimes, and that was about as close to PR as they were. So, even as a graduate with a degree in PR, I still didn’t know what exactly I wanted to do within the realm of PR (and secretly if that was even what I wanted to do at all). I searched left and right for jobs and couldn’t find a darn thing until—UNTIL—I found a PR job and the company wanted me to interview. Woo!
Long story short: I got the job, and it wasn’t public relations AT ALL. Instead, it was a recruitment company, it wasn’t exciting, I was the youngest one working there by a long shot, and ultimately it wasn’t a company I wanted to stay at (side note: there was zero opportunity for growth, which is never a good sign). What did I do? At this point I was blogging during my free time and working 8-4 with a salary and benefits and all that jazz. Still, I knew I had to get out of there. When the highlight of your day is running a simple errand for your boss (hey, 10 minutes outside the office is 10 minutes) you know you should probably find a new job. I finally worked up the courage to quit and I accepted another job which, once again, was disguised to be something that it wasn’t. Four months later, I was let go. I was at a complete loss for what to do, and between you and me, my money was disappearing quickly. Miguel and I were already living together, and we had just gotten engaged AND gotten Layla. I needed to find something ASAP. The harsh reality was that I knew the only thing that would make me happy was blogging, so after many discussions and tears, it was decided that I would pursue this whole blogging thing and, if within a few months I wasn’t making any money, I’d have to search for a “real job”.
As you can probably guess, the stars aligned (side note: I lost my job in January and the stars didn’t completely align until April so… it took some time!) and I started getting more paid blogging opportunities, I obtained two freelance jobs and I started teaching barre classes. And THAT my friends, is what “everything happens for a reason” means. It means that, despite the tears, confusion, self doubt and the determination, things have a funny way of working themselves out.
Before this turns into a mile long post (oh wait, you mean it isn’t already?), I’m going to provide some tips that I WISH someone would have told me. If you happen to find yourself in the same boat as I was in, just know that you’re not alone. The single most important thing is believing in your dreams, as crazy as they may be. You HAVE to believe that you can make lemonade out of a pile of shit. And, surprise!, you can. Trust me, you can.
1. Have a hobby (or two)
Like most other bloggers, this blog was a hobby before it was anything else. I was bored out of my mind at work and spent many, many days reading other blogs, so one day I decided to bite the bullet and create my own. It was fun, it was something to do and it was a way to connect with people. Even if your hobby is scrapbooking or playing soccer with a group of friends—it’s just a good idea to have SOMETHING to do other than work. Otherwise, it’s pretty easy for your life to be consumed by work and/or Netflix. <—seriously though.
2. REALLY think about what you ENJOY doing, not from a career perspective, but from a life perspective
What are the things that make you happiest? Do you enjoy traveling? Biking? Writing? Sewing? Is there a way for you to monetize that hobby? Even if it’s just a little extra money, doing something you absolutely love and being able to make some cash from it is SUCH a cool feeling. “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” …that quote comes into play majorly here. Also, approaching what you love from a hobby perspective at first, rather than a crazy dream that you’d love to take professionally someday, can help make it more attainable and less scary.
3. Brainstorm career options and don’t be afraid to think outside the box
When I was 18, I had NO idea you could blog for a living. My career vision was pretty limited, but if you really think about it, there are SO many things you can be “when you grow up”. You don’t have to be a doctor or a lawyer or work a desk job if you don’t want to. Research career options, reach out to people for advice and stalk your idols. Yes, stalk them. I mean, not literally (please, not literally) but find out how they got to where they are now. What did they do to become successful? Learn from others as much as possible, especially if you want to work an out-of-the-box kind of job.
4. Meanwhile, it’s ok to get a “regular” job and heck, it’s ok if you happen to like it, too!
YUPPPP, I said it. Maybe your dream job is a desk job, which btw, is awesome. Now it’s up to you to research the kind of company you want to work for. Not necessarily a specific company, but perhaps the company culture, location, and what you picture your day-to-day duties being (you know, in a perfect world). Once again, find people who work jobs you want to have and reach out to them for advice.
5. Baby steps—be patient with yourself and work hard. No one has ever gotten their dream job by NOT working hard
No matter your career field, you will have to work your butt off in order to “make it”. So, be sure to put your go-getter cap on, but also be patient with yourself. Success never ever ever happens overnight, and success looks different for everyone. As long as you’re willing to put in the time and effort, you absolutely will be able to achieve your dreams. Yes, I’m serious—I really truly believe that.
6. ….But don’t work so hard that you miss out on life
^^^this is my own advice and I believe some people might disagree with it. However, I think it’s important to take a break every once and awhile and do something completely unrelated to your hobby/passion/job and/or just hang out with people! It may sound crazy, but it’s easy to get so wrapped up in your work that everything else (and everyone else) gets pushed aside. As much as I love making food, taking photos and writing, sometimes is nice to step away from my work for a few days so I can come back and feel refreshed, recharged and ready to work even harder towards my goals.
So yeah, it’s been one year since I made my dreams a reality, and I’m still working toward bigger goals every day. What can I say? I love it.
PS this entire post was inspired by my gal pal Christina, who wrote about a somewhat similar topic here. I wanted to write about my experience in hopes that someone out there can relate. If you can dream it, you can do it. That’s what they say, right?!