How My Feelings About ‘Real Life’ Changed from ‘I hate this’ to ‘It’s all OK and gets better’
As soon as someone said: “you’ll meet the real world when you graduate”, … I rolled my eyes at them instinctively. It sounded so silly and meaningless. What was I living in if it wasn’t the real world? Right…? NO! Those who told me were absolutely correct and knew what they were talking about.
Life after graduating from university became a tougher challenge day by day. Beginning so early with the search for a job that would match and challenge the competencies and knowledge I believed I had gained over my 17 years of successfully completed academic life.
Surprising as it is, the search for a perfect job couldn’t be more disappointing. Never ending attempt at cover letters, appalling interviews and turn-downs due to not being experienced (what experience they were looking for from a fresh graduate is still an unanswered question for me) were only the beginning.
As I pushed myself to remain calm, maintain my motivation and keep going, I slowly realised I needed alternative escape plans and strategies. Among an array of options i was considering, there was a possibility of going back to grad school, accept unpaid internship offers, take a year off to move to somewhere exotic and do social work, etc. The list went on. The realisation that my academic success would not necessarily earn the place in the professional world that I had imagined couldn’t come earlier.
As I no longer was a student, my health insurance became a problem to deal with and I was categorised as ‘unemployed’ by the government, putting even more pressure, making me feel I was now a burden to my parents.
To cut the story short, I started working in a large and well-known corporate company in the Business Development Department not very long after graduation. And later, another giant one. Different industries, bigger disappointments.
To give credit, I’ll say some part was OK, but mostly unsatisfying experiences and inefficiently spent time at creativity-killing offices, trying to help big corporates achieve their year-end goals. 3 years was more than enough time to spend at these highly respected corporate offices to figure out that I wasn’t supposed to stay any longer.
I panicked like crazy as everyone does when they leave their routine, balanced and respected corporate life.
But let me tell you something.
Life after quitting corporate life turned out to be insanely experimental and inspiring. Some days were hell, let’s get that out first.
I questioned every single decision I had made until that day, felt terrified of not succeeding and becoming an anti-social person due to my home office schedule and sadly, became even more anti-social. Ups and downs, all the time. Sometimes more of only the latter.
Cliché I know, but eventually, this process of self discovery and discipline built a stronger, more confident, inspired and motivated version of myself. I am a true believer in not the result but the journey, and this is absolutely a journey everyone has to take no matter how scared they are, if they have felt even slightly unhappy with their current career decisions at one point.
So please let me convince you into taking this terrifying but fantastic step.
1. You will learn so much more than you would from doing an expensive MBA.
As soon as you stop dedicating a minimum of 40 hours to someone else’s job, you will have all that time for yourself to catch up on everything that was going on in the world at a light speed.
At first, you might not know where to begin, but as soon as you figure out, the vortex of information will pull you in. Beware: once you are inside, you’ll realise there is no going back and you’ll find yourself exhausted of all that you can take in.
It won’t be very long until you realise how much you can self-teach yourself and become aware of your surroundings. Technology and internet save you a ton of money by bringing even the most unapproachable information and skills to a click away. Make use of it!
2. Being alone on a journey will strengthen you.
Solitude is something most people are uncomfortable being in, let alone accepting and talking about in front of others. Imagine that even seeing a movie by yourself is regarded as being weird in a lot of societies. And we are talking about going against the tide over here.
No matter how many people support you and appreciate your decision, you are going to be alone on your journey in the end. Accept this from the beginning and you’ll get the panic out of your system.
Unlike the common belief, doing something alone and different from the rest doesn’t mean you’re a weirdo or a loser, but on the contrary, daring enough to try and take a chance of failing. You will be the only person you’ll have to face along your path, so be in peace with yourself, and embrace your dreams, successes and failures.
After a time, you won’t believe how much confidence this will put into you.
3. Experience the joy and thrill in trying, putting all you got into a dream, figuring out who you are and where you wish to be.
An act as simple as dreaming becomes a courageous thing to do when you’re a grown-up.
Your environment teaches you the right things to do, the ideal jobs to work for, perfect place to live in, dream guy to marry, and so on. In the state of acceptance, you don’t take a minute to think if that is what you actually want.
But once you break that non-visible barrier of pre-determined choices, you are free to dream and create who you want to be. It won’t be long until your mind and heart fill your cells with joy and imagination, taking you onto a new adventure of self discovery.
4. Embrace and love yourself no matter what mistake you make along the way.
You’re going to make mistakes. And it is not a big deal.
Since you have decided to go against the tide, you’re going to feel you have to force yourself to read more, learn more, do more. More of everyhting. I pressured myself to wake up earlier than the previous day, until my body couldn’t take no more. Just so that I would lose less time sleeping and have more time working.
But you have to realise that if you don’t maintain a healthy work-life balance and a healthy mind, you can’t succeed no matter how hard you push.
You won’t be perfect the minute you start something, so don’t be cruel to yourself, as it will only take away your motivation.
Some of the biggest lessons are learnt from failures. And you are only a human. So always keep that in mind and embrace yourself with your mistakes.
5. Design a life that is not dreadful and a burden to survive in.
Since you have gotten into a lot of trouble in order to pursue your dreams and find you passion, make sure you create schedules and an environment that make you happy.
In order to not jump from one dreadful workplace to another, which makes you feel like you’re missing out on life, ask yourself being where and doing what makes you happy.
If you think you’ll be happy living in a different country, try to figure out if you can do whatever you do best there and earn a living in that place. If not, can you create a way to do so? Ask infinite questions to yourself and design your life from scratch.
For some, answering those questions are very easy. They know what they are good at, what makes them happy and what they want to do with it. But it is the toughest thing for those who do not.
Finding what makes you so happy that you wouldn’t mind working on it for the rest of your life, is perhaps the challenge of our era.
But when you know where you’re heading to, you are able to turn any challenge along the journey into an opportunity.
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