In all honesty, 30 years old is a good place to be. You’re old enough to have experience in the world but young enough to not yet see all those wrinkles forming around your eyes and mouth. A life at 30 years has many advantages — there is a very real possibility that you have found the person you are going to spend the rest of your life with and your career experiences are numerous. Most likely, you’ve worked for a couple different companies, in different departments. But throughout your professional life, there has been a nagging sensation in the back of your mind. You ask yourself, is it unhappiness or dissatisfaction? Because life is good, and yet you’re not fulfilled.
Growing up, family and friends offered a window into potential professions. Maybe a beloved aunt shows you the magnificence of horses and, lo and behold, you become a veterinarian. Perhaps your mother shows you the wonders of art that inspires you to become the greatest curator the industry has ever seen. When the time arrives, you take what you consider an appropriate career and learn everything you possibly can in college. You participate in all the right clubs, internships and part-time jobs on the weekends to ensure that you are going to be a success.
You go out into the “real world” to start your professional life. You make some progress, working in your field but not the right department. You decide to take several chances and move on from one job to the next, always thinking, This will be it. My opportunity has come.
But now you’re 30 and you’re still in the wrong department and your colleagues don’t seem to care about their careers nearly as much as you do. It’s not that you expected every job you’ve had up to this point to be perfect. You were prepared to pay your dues, but also to have the opportunity to prove yourself and be rewarded accordingly. As you begin to take stock of your professional life thus far, you realize what you’ve known all along: you are not where you want to be, your career has not been what you expected, and you are very, very frustrated.
You become increasingly bitter about your professional situation, and potential past mistakes race through your mind. Did you choose the wrong degree in school? Did you participate in enough internships in college? You know you never networked enough. You come to the inevitable conclusion that it was your fault that you failed, because at this point in your life, you feel like you’ve failed. You feel as though you should be further in your career, happier in your chosen profession. To calm your anxieties, you do the thing that makes you feel the most at peace — you write or paint, you practice yoga, you help your friends through crises and give advice. When you go home, you feel an intense sense of relief. You get used to having a job that makes you feel worthless during the week and a passion that makes you feel whole the rest of the time.
So you give up. Not on yourself — quite the opposite actually. You are more dedicated to yourself and how you are going to be a success than ever before. What you have given up on is the traditional workplace environment, on the traditional career. It has never made you happy, and you don’t foresee that it ever will. So, you have given up. You have decided that even though you worked very hard and had some success, it’s not enough. None of it has made you feel whole, and you certainly do not look forward to more interviews, a new workplace filled with people you don’t feel support you and a job you resent after six months. The one thing that has made you happy? Your after-work hours passion project, your side hustle you will work into the wee hours of the night to accomplish.
You decide to make the leap to work toward your true passion being your full-time job. Naturally, doubts come crawling into your mind. Could you do it? Would it ever work? Could you be able to make a living? Questions keep racing through your mind; doubts keep creeping in. In the end of a long internal struggle, do you talk yourself out of it?
But what if you could do it? You may be scared of failure, but who isn’t? We all need to be reminded once in a while that life isn’t worth living miserably. If you’re as fed up with your career and with the traditional workplace as I am, then make that leap. After talking myself out of taking a chance for 10 years, I am so ready to take that leap.
My passion project, if you haven’t guessed, is writing. It’s a process that it is so important to me because, when I was totally unsure of myself, I would sit down to write and thankfully life made a little more sense. I have started on my path of a life of a freelance writing, and I am scared. Scared that once I do leave my job, no one will have my work, that I will fall flat on my face. My biggest fear is that I will be more unhappy than I am now. But honestly, I don’t see how that can happen.
I imagine my future as a freelance writer and it fills me with the warmth you get when looking at your spouse or a really delicious doughnut (just kidding). I am excited, exhilarated and have more energy now than I have in years. I am confident that if you feel the same as I do, as I have, you are ready to take a chance on yourself. Take the chance, make the leap, and be ready to accept a wholly fulfilled life doing something you truly believe in.