Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Trials of a Twenty-Something

I decided to write this as I am currently sitting on a train halfway up the British Isles, heading a place I've never been before to start a new job there. Or rather, I decided to write this when I decided that sitting on a train to a place I've never been before to start a new job there was a good idea. And I decided that because I am 23, living at home (or was), returned from a year abroad and not really knowing what to do with my life. And so it begins.

Not quite the right country. Still, it seems apt.
I never really had a clear sense of where I was going in life. I made decisions based on the path put before me - school, sixth form, uni... and then reality hit hard. What was I going to do with the rest of my existence? The panic was slightly suffocating - there were so many paths open to me, I couldn't even contemplate how to begin making a decision, let alone reach a point where I was satisfied with the outcome. So, I stressed, I sweated, I sobbed - I somehow managed to make time for studying - and then I decided to do a gap year to put off the decision a bit more.

OK, so hanging out on the sun-soaked beaches of the Colombian Caribbean may not be the most career-advancing move ever imagined, but it was during that year that I made a fundamental realisation: it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you do something.

I mean, obviously there are some factors to be considered. 'A person cannot live on bread alone', as someone once said (Jesus, actually). And it's worth doing something that you enjoy, although that can be a bit of a tricky one - for me, often, I don't realise I like something until I'm actually doing it. Enjoyment is also surprisingly far down the list of priorities - everyone's supposed to hate their first job, right? I was fully expecting to follow convention and not like my first job in Cambridge - the long hours, the commute, the office set-up, the mindless tedium of it all - but I learnt a heck of a lot from it, and I absolutely loved my colleagues! So, it pays to try things out. You can't have everything.

Still not the right country. So sue me.
But the other thing I've found is not to settle. After all that, following on from my office experience and time abroad, I've landed myself a job with the company that calls itself 'the world's leading cultural relations organisation'. Yeah, I was surprised too. And that doesn't have to be the end. I think I'll stay here for a little while longer than my last job (at least, my parents certainly hope so!), but if, after a while, another opportunity comes along, I'll take it. Or I'll have a damn good go at it. After all, we are the generation of multiple career paths. Let's see where mine leads me.

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