I’m twenty-five and lost. I can’t find my way. But for the first time, I realize that’s okay. It’s going to be okay. Just because I haven’t yet found my way in life doesn’t mean that I won’t.
For a long time I dreaded going anywhere I knew people would ask me the question “What are you up to?” A college friend’s engagement party surrounded by former classmates I rarely see? Anxiety central. Happy hours with my friend’s co-workers? Fun, yes, but torture at the same time. I’m really friendly, super outgoing, and I love meeting friends of friends, but not having an answer to the age old question “What do you do?” felt like a form of abuse. I would tremble at the thought of being around anybody other than my best friends.
I feared being judged for having done, well, nothing since I graduated.
At any given time during the past three years since I graduated college I’ve either been a) unemployed, b) working a dead-end retail job, c) nannying or d) interning/freelancing. Other than my four month stint freelancing for a well-known and respected french designer, none of my other ventures were ones I was particularly proud of. For the past three years, I have felt like a failure. I’ve been floating through life, barely getting by, and trying hard not to think about how much I hate the position I’m in.
Now, the situation I am in is not for lack of trying, and as far as I can tell, it’s not for lack of being qualified. In college, I was on the dean’s list and a member of the honor society. After graduating I left with honors and with solid retail and internship experience. I had big dreams of landing a good job in merchandising or product development. Prior to my graduation from FIT in New York City, I began applying and interviewing for jobs in February. I wasn’t sitting on my ass, for lack of a better phrase, or resting on my laurels. I went for it and started applying to jobs like a madwoman. I was confident in myself and my abilities and I never dreamed that nearly four years later I would be, well, lost. I’ve been on more interviews than I care to remember. Aside from a select few, I went in to each one confident and left confident. I have a bubbly personality, I carry myself well, I genuinely enjoy speaking with people, and I’ve never been a nervous interviewer. In one particular instance, I went for three interviews with a company and was assured that my third and final interview was simply to determine where my placement would be within said company. Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail saying that unfortunately the position would not be offered to me. To say that I was crushed would be an understatement. I was riding the Long Island Railroad at the time and was quite embarrassed at my uncontrollable flood of tears.
There have been a few big blows like that, but that one was by far the worst. The fashion industry is a selective and competitive one.
People from all over the country, the world even, want jobs in the industry and in NYC. Knowing that doesn’t make my situation any easier. Sometimes I feel like I should just give up. On more than one occasion I have applied to colleges to switch career paths, but I could never go through with it. For one, this industry has always been my dream. When I was seven years old and first found out that there was a college you could go to to study fashion, I was in awe. I knew I wanted to attend FIT for as long as I can remember, and when I got in as a senior in high school, on the first try, I was ecstatic. Applying to a competitive program was nerve wracking, but there was no other place I wanted to go. I remember the day I got my acceptance letter clearly. I was taking a nap after school, a normal occurrence for me, and my dad started screaming up the stairs at me to come down. I begrudgingly threw back the covers and pounded down the stairs with a pissed off attitude, until he handed me the big envelope with “Congratulations” printed on the outside. I remember how happy my parents were for me, how they beamed with pride. My heart was bursting with excitement, and looking back at that naive, innocent eighteen year old with so much promise is both humbling and sad.
A part of me is a bit jaded now, but regardless, I know that I will never give up. All of my experiences over the past three years have been for a reason. I have learned more about myself than I can even begin to explain. For starters, I have learned how lucky I am to have the people that I do in my life. My family and friends have loved, supported, and encouraged me through each and every day. They are the ones that push me and hold me up when I feel my knees buckling under the pressure. They are the reason that I keep going and, stubbornly or not, keep fighting for what I want. I have no other choice than to believe that everything in this life truly happens for a reason. Each venture has taught me something, and more importantly, I am now in a position where I know exactly the job I want and the specific part of the industry I want to pursue.
Had I gotten a job out of college without working odd jobs and freelancing, I may have been stuck in a career path that wasn’t right for me, and if nothing else, I am grateful for that.
Life is short. Dream big, fight for what you want, love hard and never give up. I’m twenty-five and lost, but for the first time, I realize that’s okay. Maybe I don’t have the job that I want yet. Maybe I still live home with my parents, maybe I’m just barely getting by, but I am not a failure. You can’t fail until you stop trying. I have a friend that is engaged and getting married next summer. I have another friend that just bought a house. Some friends are settled into their own apartments in the city, others have solid jobs, but still live home. And then, there are those out there like me. That’s what your twenties are like, and it’s totally normal. Sometimes you’ve got your shit together, and sometimes you don’t. For a long time I was embarrassed to be where I am. I would have never written this piece and admitted to the fact that I have been truly struggling for the last few years, but it’s important sometimes to say You know what? I’m not okay. I have a tendency, like most millennials, to only share the best parts of my life, and to hide the mess, but why? It’s okay to not be okay, and it’s okay to be a little lost. Remember that.