Experience as a 20-something Trying To Find Her Way

When I was in college, I thought I needed to have my entire life figured out by the time I graduated. All of my peers were receiving offers from big name companies like JP Morgan, Bank of America, Delta and American Express, just to name a few. I thought I needed to follow suit. Instead of pursuing a career in my field of interest I accepted the first job I was offered. I thought I was on top of the world. I just got my first REAL job out of college!


During my time in college I wanted to pursue a career in Public Relations. I loved planning events and enjoyed making sure the word about something, whatever that might be, got out. I was so passionate about this that I insisted on getting the necessary experience and got internships in the field. I was an intern at a major firm in Atlanta, a firm based in LA but wanted to enter the Atlanta market, and an internship with the Atlanta’s Cultural Affairs office. But, unfortunately, when the time came for me to find a job I couldn't find one in PR or event coordination. Instead of staying at my part time job after graduation in order to pursue my dreams, I settled on the first thing I could find. 


I landed in the automotive industry. As soon as I accepted the position I knew it wasn't right and I knew the job wasn't for me, but I decided to go along with it anyway. I needed a job, wanted the corporate experience and I was working for one of the top automotive companies in the world. Not to mention, I was making really good money for a 21 year old fresh out of college. 


I started out as a trainee and rotated around different departments at the corporate headquarters in California learning various aspects of the business. I thought about leaving the company while I was living in California, but I didn't have the courage and was too scared to do so. Even now, some days I wish I would have left and found a job that I actually wanted. But, it’s never good to dwell on the past and I don't regret it. 


A year an a few months had gone by. I was transferred to Chicago as an analyst (still wishing that I had not gone along with this plan). Not even 6 months after I moved to Chicago, I was promoted to District Manager. At this point I knew that I was in way too deep. I should have been a little more honest with myself because I knew working with dealership service departments was not for me. 


During and after my transition I started to become miserable and depressed. I would cry, scream and shout on my way to work. Imagine driving at least 6 hours to Wisconsin with no ambition of getting to your destination. Sadly, the best part of my day was spending 6 hours, by myself, driving. I was alone, I could think about the world around, gather my thoughts. I was able to talk to my friends and family on the phone, which started to become a rarity if I didn't make myself do it. Driving gave me time to reflect about my life. I was faced with internal struggles that I didn't know how to fight. Driving was the only form of meditation that I had. 


I realized that through all of this I had lost myself along the way. I made friends, but barely spoke to them. I lost all interest in the things that once excited me. I gained a lot of weight and ate my sorrows away. I was in a long distance relationship that just added to the stress because we were constantly trying to figure out what we wanted to do and were in an “on-again-off-again” relationship.


How could I allow things to get to this point? I really don't think I can honestly answer this question. One thing I do know for sure is that after 2 years of being unhappy, doing the same job that disliked so much, it was time for me to call it quits. After 4 years with the same company I left the comfort of my job. I do not recommend or advocate this for anyone, but I knew this was the right decision for me. It was the best decision I’ve made in my life so far. Undeniably, my happiness increased, I was more confident in myself and the decisions I made, and I had a better understanding of the things I wanted to do with my life. 


You're probably wondering how I go to this point. I will tell you that it wasn't easy, but I knew it was something that I needed to do. For a few months leading up to this move, I started to change a lot of the things in my life. I started to write more, I needed a way to express myself and release my thoughts and anxiety. I relied heavily on speaking with my family and friends about what I was going through. My spirituality had taken a back seat and needed to be re-engaged. I started to read books my Deepak Chopra (please look him up), started to meditate and joined a yoga studio. I started to read more…A LOT more (various genres excite me). All of these new things started to make me feel good about myself. Eventually, I decided that I would start my own business. LILLY GRANT is a handmade jewelry company that I started in October of last year. Making jewelry started out as a hobby that soon turned into a passion. 


I wanted to share my story with people because I wanted people to understand that you don't have to stay stuck in the same place. If you are going through something or know in your gut that something isn't for you, you have to stay strong and know that something more is out there for you. There are many people that are going through the same internal struggles that you are going through. I thought that I was alone. I thought I needed to have my entire life figured out. But sometimes things don't work out that way. 


One thing that really helped me was to become more in touch with my spirituality. For me, that meant reading more, doing yoga and meditating. For others, that could be going to church or temple, or simply exploring the outdoors. I am also an aspiring photographer, carrying my camera around with me everywhere I went was therapeutic. I was able to capture the moment whenever I was out and about running errands around the city. What I want to leave you with is that it’s okay if you don't know what you want to do right away. It’s okay if you feel a little down. The most important thing for you to remember is that this is your low point. You can only go up from here. 


By: Rachel M. Roberts