When I walked across the graduation stage three years ago, I was a mixed bag of emotions.
Excited. Nervous. Proud. Terrified. Confident. Anxious. Confused.
I was one of the “lucky” grads.
While many of my peers were stressed about finding work or getting into grad school,
I had a great job lined up in my field working as a reporter for a busy daily newspaper – a great gig for a girl fresh out of j-school to land.
It was exactly what I had spent the past four years of my life working towards.
Every summer and Christmas break I’d take on internships and jobs. I’d worked my butt off since high school in hopes of one day becoming a reporter – and I was finally living my “dream.”
Trouble was, it felt terrible.
The summer after university was a really confusing time. I felt intense pressure at work, sadness over leaving my college town and friends, and a terrifying feeling that the relationship I’d spent the last four years in, wasn’t for me.
My whole life was shifting beneath my feet.
I dubbed this nauseous sensation “the feeling of impending doom.” And tried my best to suppress it with after-work pints and pot smoking. It worked, but only for a while.
A terrifying truth was rising inside me. Slowly, I was realizing the life I’d spent over four years working toward, was no longer what I wanted.
The demands of daily journalism, while exciting, left me exhausted, drained and depleted. And, my relationship, once full of romance and fun, felt empty, disconnected and strange.
Everything I’d spent years creating, was crumbling.
The Terrifying Truth: It’s not that simple.
I was going through what a lot of fresh grads experience after school. For eighteen years, I followed a path laid out in front of me by my parents, teachers and guidance counselors. Get good grades and get a job. Do well in school and do well in life.
But, it’s not that simple.
What happens when we get out into the world and discover the career path we’ve prepared for doesn’t actually make us happy?
University is a huge investment. Tons of us have debt. We feel pressured to commit to the passion-less work grind, because we see it as the only way out.
But, really, we’re just setting ourselves up for a long, tough, life.
The Secret? Intuition + Vision
To get ahead, to break the cycle, to come out on top, you’ve got have intuition and vision.
Intuition means knowing yourself wholly and completely on the deepest of levels. You can sense when something is right for you, or when something is wrong for you.
Vision means painting a clear picture of what you want. Having a goal or dream that feels exhilarating and fills you with passion and drive as you pursue it.
Fresh grads struggle with this because our intuition and vision go a little numb during school.
There’s little room for freedom in academia. So when we finally launch ourselves into the real world, it freaks us out.
Think about it. We are constantly told by professors, parents and the media what to do. We are bombarded with information about what jobs will make us the most money, what to study to get those jobs, and exactly how to succeed in our program or major.
We hear so many voices that the voice that’s most important get’s drowned out: our own.
How I Became an Intuition + Visioning Master
Before I left university, a professor offered me an opportunity in to work for two months at a news outlet in Kigali, Rwanda.
I really wanted to go.
In fact, I had heard about the Africa program in high school and it was one of the main reasons I chose my university over others.
But, when the offer came, I panicked. I made up an excuse about having a terminally ill grandparent (terrible I know!!) and backed out. I told my prof I really wanted go, but my family situation made it impossible for me at the time. I felt horrible about the lie, but was too scared to commit to the trip.
When he emailed me again later that summer asking if I still wanted to go, I replied with an instinctive and instant yes.
My job contract was up at the end of December. The daily news grind was already proving to be quite the struggle so I decided I wouldn’t renew it and move to Rwanda in January.
After I made this commitment, the dominoes began to drop.
I felt an overwhelming need to end things with my college boyfriend. So, I did.
While it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I could feel in my bones that it was the absolute right move.
For the first time in my adult life, I was an individual. It was scary, but invigorating.
I got my affairs in order. Bought a plane ticket and a backpack. Then took off for six months.
My life was so full of drama, heartache and intensity that I was too busy to be scared.
When I arrived in Rwanda I felt so free. I could finally focus on just me.
I learned how to live in the moment. I undid my “achievement complex,” and began to place blind faith in the universe. I had no other choice. I couldn’t control anything. So I surrendered.
There were a few tense moments during my travels, but I was always taken care of, always safe. Everyday life gave me exactly what I needed.
My intuition became razor sharp. And after schlepping my way around half the world alone, my confidence in myself soared. I knew I could handle anything.
The freedom I experienced while away also allowed me to really reflect on what I wanted my life to look like. I read lots of books, wrote in my journal and had tons of amazing authentic conversations with people about happiness.
The only person I was accountable for was myself. And this space and freedom gave me clarity that was crystal clear.
When I came home six months later, I felt like a different person.
I stopped comparing myself to others and started to look at my life as a blank canvas on which I could create anything. I started following my intuition and living from my heart, not my head.
The results have been amazing. Opportunities I never could’ve dreamed of manifested themselves perfectly. I’m in a relationship full of love and adventure. And my career lights me up and fills me with so much drive. Everyday feels like a treat.
How To Design Your Life Like a Boss
To all those fresh grads out there, some advice.
If you can afford to take a trip, take one. Go on an odyssey, stretch your comfort zone, and embrace the uncertainty of the path ahead. Try and discover the real you — the person that exists beneath the titles, the grades and the fancy diploma.
If you can’t afford to travel far, create some space for yourself to discover who you really are from the inside out. Create a weekly ritual or get out of town for a weekend.
Ask yourself what you really want your life to look like. Don’t limit yourself. And, more importantly, don’t look to grades, other people’s opinions or outward benchmarks of success.
Over the next few months, practice sharpening your intuition. Pay attention to your body. What thoughts cause you to feel light and expansive? Follow those. Feeling anxious or stressed? It might be time reevaluate.
Our feelings are clues to our deeper purpose. If we can master reading them, we can master our destiny.
One last thing…
Remember, in life, you can always change your mind. Nothing is permanent. Everything is progress. Even if you discover, like me, that the career or relationship you thought was meant to be forever isn’t, don’t freak out.
In the end, everything connects.
Every experience, person and place shapes who you are. Be grateful for it all. And if you feel it’s time for a change, embrace it. Trust the universe has got your back.
With so much love,