Scared to Start Over? It’ll All Be Okay.
Originally Published at On The Brain.
Switching careers is a frightening process, given all the uncertainty of change. However, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself. While you might be scared that it’s already too late, since you’ve invested all this time and energy, consider our parents, grandparents, or their forefathers. As immigrants to an entirely new country, they certainly held that fear. Yet they’re here now, and gained new skills in the struggle. You too can learn to be as resilient as they are, and make this change in your life!
Reframe your thinking.
No matter how long you’ve been “off track”, you haven’t wasted time if you’ve learned something valuable. Instead of looking at yourself as a failure, see yourself as a product of all these collected memories. Even mistakes offer insight on how you can make better decisions in the future. As hard as it is, try to find something you can be proud of. Consider, how can your previous experiences transfer to your new field?
Don’t focus too much on the past, because you are constantly changing. Our personalities are not set in stone, and we’re constantly in a state of unrest. So take that time to try new things you’ve always been curious about before, and start new healthy habits. That being said, it might be helpful to pick up relevant skills im preparation for your next job.
Just do something, anything at all.
It’s a rather embarrassing story, but I figured it’s worth sharing. At one of my lowest points, I felt paralyzed by my anxiety about finding a job after graduation and completing my senior thesis. I often slept over 12 hours a day to escape reality and hardly left my room, not even to eat. I was literally hiding from my problems as well as the folks I cared about, because I didn’t want anyone to see my at this state.
The one time I sneaked off to brunch, hoping to avoid familiar faces, my friend caught me at the dining hall. As a STEM major, he told me about applying the concepts of inertia and momentum into our everyday lives. He said that it takes significantly more force to start movement than it is to accelerate. It really hit me and I can’t thank him enough.
In layman’s terms, it’s a lot harder to get started than it is to keep moving. Sounds like a formula to success, so embrace kinetic energy.
Reconnect with loved ones.
Alone time is needed, but also know others are there for you. Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends. Kick that pride into the nearest trash bin, and replace it with a bit of humility. It’s okay to be vulnerable, share your worries with your trusted ones and ask for advice. Who knows? They might even introduce you to a mentor in the new field you’d like to explore!
Lastly, manage your expectations. It’s okay to make mistakes, since no one can be perfect. Neither can one be productive 24/7. I found that I put too much pressure on myself to have my entire life planned out. I’m only 23 years old, but I’ve always imagined that I would have figured out my career by that age. That’s actually quite unrealistic, but I could at least take steps to explore the possibilities out there.
How are things now?
Just to let you know, things did get better from those days of lethargy and escapism. After consulting with a counselor at CAPs (our student counseling and psychological services center), I set a schedule with time slots for when I would study, work on my job search and go out with friends.
I got back into the habit of waking up at 6:00am for gym time and breakfast. The oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar was a great start to the day. My stress levels decreased as I continued to submit job applications, since I was at least getting things done. I’ve heard back and am going to interviews.
I also found other ways to relieve the pressure and have some more fun. I volunteered to plan “Sextravaganza”, a campus-wide sex-positive event for undergraduates, found pleasure in eating out, and met cool acquaintances through social events. There’s still days when I feel tired after a long day, but at least I’m just a lot happier now!
Speaking of which, what ever happened to that friend? Well, he’s still finishing his studies and is bound to go far in life. He let me know that he got a new tattoo — the laws of intertia sit on his wrist. Sure to say that he’s a man of his words.
If you enjoyed reading this article, check out the rest at at On The Brain.