Your guidance counselor lied

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Let’s take a little trip down memory lane.

We all remember the careers class in high school. An Easy A and I’m not talking about the movie starring Emma Stone. All jokes aside, we would spend the entire class researching “career paths,” and taking personality tests that were supposed to determine what traditional, run of the mill 9-to-5 job we would have when we grew up.

Accounting, anyone? So much beige...

Don’t get me started on the school guidance counselor, serving us the idea of the picture perfect path to career success as if we really have any clue what we want to do with our lives in the next decade. All at the mature age of sixteen. Not an ideal age for making important life decisions. We can barely decide what we want to eat for lunch.

Thanks but, no thanks, Karen.

Society pre-programs us at an even younger age to start dreaming up our future “career path.” Take, for example, Career Barbie. Our options are we can be a skinny blonde doctor, or get this, a skinny blonde waitress—yay! Scientists wear 3-inch stilettos, right?

*sigh*

Career path are a nonsense phrase invented by university professionals trying to corral us into a really boring narrative. If you made a 10-year plan, and you knew each career move you’d make, each important milestone you’d hit, and you followed it to the letter— what a boring ass life you’d lead.

*yawn* how dull.

Your career isn’t a path, it’s a map. If you don’t like the road you’re on, you can get off and take a new road.

Sometimes adult life feels like you’re driving down a dark road at night. You can see a bit of the way, enough to know that you’re not doing a Thelma and Louise, but not enough road to see the destination.

Not knowing what’s up next is scary— and it’s a bit scarier when you’re working hard to get to a destination that’s still shrouded in a bit of fog and mystery. It’s natural to get frustrated, the kind of “what the fuck is this all for” kind. In those moments you have to lean into the unknown and have some trust that if you just keep driving, you’ll end up somewhere interesting.

Your career isn’t a path, it’s a map. If you don’t like the road you’re on, you can get off and take a new road.

Some of us are on highways, and some of us are on country roads, there is no right way to get there. It’s easy to get caught up in what everybody else is doing, letting the self-doubt, imposter syndrome and jealousy creep in. If you’re constantly looking in your rearview mirror, you’re going to crash.

Keep your head facing forward, and don’t judge your journey against anyone else’s.

Instead, pick a few influencers or mentors who are accomplished professionals in your area of interest. People who motivate and inspire you, and work towards achieving that success—but your way. Maybe even pick their brains over coffee while you’re at it.

And if you don’t like the road you’re on, you can take an off-ramp and do something else—because you, my friend, are holding the damn wheel.

When you are feeling stuck, remember that there is more road there, even if you can only see 3 feet. Keep going. Trust that the path will reveal itself.

And while you’re on this weird little road trip, stop off at the world’s biggest rocking chair or some shit, ‘cause that’s the adventure part, baby.