I’m 24. I started school for retail marketing in September and truly truly loved it, and now I'm having all these feelings of doubt about my decision to choose the program that I did. Companies are laying off their teams because the retail industry is struggling hard these days with our entire generation being so fond of online shopping. The only jobs available really are the top notch people working in the head offices. The plan was to always work my way to the top, and hoped that school would help me skip a few steps of the ladder. Those steps are becoming more and more hard to take though and it seems the only people fortunate enough to get jobs are the ones who are already right up there.
I went to college so I could get a cool job, you know? I used to think this is what I really wanted to do but I've found myself straying away from that desire and it's kind of scary! I mean I moved to go back to school and actually finish something for once and now every morning I literally dread the thought of it. I've also gotten really into interior design and home decor since moving and would love to explore a career in that field. I'm just so confused with all my thoughts and I'm also so scared to disappoint my mom, sister, and friends who are all currently so proud of me for finally going back to school for "something that I love." I guess I'm just reaching out to you for some words of wisdom, to tell me I'm not insane, and for some advice on how to go forward.
~ Miss Anonymous
Hey Miss Anonymous,
I FEEL you! So first things first, you are NOT crazy. Everything you're feeling is totally normal. And even though it's terrifying, questioning your decisions is actually a really good thing because it means that you're growing and discovering more about yourself. And the more you know truly know yourself, the happier you'll be.
So deep breath girl... this existential crisis you're in is actually a blessing in disguise AND there is a solution of the highest possible good (aka one where everybody wins!) here for you. Trust me.
Some nuggets of wisdom for you to ponder...
1. Know it's okay to change your mind.
You're 24!!! Anyone who tells you they knew exactly what they wanted to do at 24 is either lying to your face, or in for a serious mid-life crisis down the road. The beauty of our twenties is they're a time for us to discover who we are. When you chose to study retail marketing last year you were making the best possible choice for yourself given the knowledge you had at the time.
Then you started school, learned more about the industry, and using the new knowledge you gained from school, were inspired to make a better choice. THIS IS A GOOD THING. It shows you're a smart, forward-thinking and able to adapt to new information that comes your way.
Give yourself permission to change your mind.
Changing your mind does not mean failure.
Changing your mind does not mean you're flaky.
Changing your mind does not mean you can't follow through.
CHANGING YOUR MIND MEANS YOU'RE GROWING AND GETTING WISER.
If your intuition is telling you to do something, trust her. She's got your back!
2. Get clear and reconnect with WHY you're in school.
I could literally write a whole post on this because it's soooo important, especially for us millennials. In this day and age with all of the negativity swirling around the economy I think it's naive for people to assume that just because they complete a program means they're going to get a job.
A degree does not equal a job.
A degree + hard work + facing fears + putting yourself out there + taking risks + persistence + lots of self-love + more persistence + positivity + taking lots of tiny right actions + getting shut down + more persistence = JOB!!!!
We only fail when WE'VE CHOSEN TO QUIT. The only thing that separates you from that CEO in the corner office, is that she's "failed" hundreds of times, picked herself back up and persevered.
But, just because a degree doesn't automatically mean a job, doesn't mean a degree is useless. At all.
First of all, you pretty much need some sort of post-secondary education to make beyond minimum wage in the workforce these days. That in and of itself is a good reason to go to college.
But more importantly, education leads to self-discovery! When we open ourselves up to learning about the world, we learn about ourselves. We discover what we like, what we don't like, who want we want to be, who we don't want to be, what we want to do, what we don't want to do etc...
And this is happening to you!! Without enrolling in your program and moving to a new city, would you have discovered your passion for home decor? Maybe, but maybe not.
Instead of putting so much pressure on yourself and your education to gain you employment, look at it as an experiment in self-discovery. You can only GAIN by being in school. Even if you fail all of your classes (which for the record I am not endorsing) you will at least leave with a deeper understanding of your own strengths and weaknesses, which in turn helps you make better decisions moving forward.
Remember, nobodies path is straight in life. People who study medicine can end up as artists. People who study finance can end up writing books. People who study journalism can end up life coaching twenty-somethings *cough cough*.... that's what keeps it all exciting!
You said in your question you WANT to be in school and to finish something that you started, which is a really solid thing to do in terms of building confidence and gaining momentum in life.
So let me ask you...
What would it take for you to finish your degree on a high-note?
Even though you've grown and realized a career in visual merch ain't your thang anymore, how can you still make this degree work for you? And who do you need to BE to enjoy your last year and a half of school?
3. What you focus on expands.
I get it, once that original spark of inspiration fades, it can be hard to stay motivated and passionate about school. But if you're committed to finishing what you started, it's important to find the silver lining and the tiny blessings that exist in every day.
Don't count on school to make you happy! That would be totally giving away all of your power. Instead take your happiness into your own hands and commit to it.
First off, spend some time focusing on what you realllllly enjoy about life currently. I dare you to create a list of at least 25 things you're grateful for right now.
Next get clear, what *exactly* is it that you dread about going to school? I'm talking realllll specific. Make a list.
Once you're clear, ask yourself, how can I make my days more enjoyable? What tiny tweaks can I make to add more fun and inspiration into my day. And be really honest... are these so-called "dreaded things" really just you projecting a bad attitude onto what you're experiencing?
I say that because a lot of what we experience in our daily life has to do with the vibes we're putting out into the world. So if you go to school everyday negative and complaining you are literally attracting more situations into your life that will cause you to complain.
The flip-side is if you leave your house every morning refreshed and excited, you will attract refreshing and exciting opportunities!
Life is literally a mirror reflecting back to us exactly what we're putting out.
Focus on finding the good in every single day and you will feel good every single day.
Go to school with a passionate, excited attitude and you will discover things that ignite your passion and excite you.
4. Create space for what you love.
You've discovered a little gem inside of you and now it's time to nurture it. Meaning if you're curious about home decor and interior design, explore it!
It sounds like you've already been doing this with your awesome DIY projects... but what else can you do to continue to evolve your design talents?
Who can you talk to?
What can you read?
Where can you go?
What can you study? (even if it's just through books + websites!)
Feed your hungry soul!!!
You can have your cake and eat it too. Meaning that just because you're wrapping up a degree in retail marketing, doesn't mean you can't also explore career paths in home decor. Find out what's transferable. Find out what the gaps are you need to fill. And go fill 'em!
That might look like more school, but not necessarily! You can apprentice or assist an interior designer, work in a home decor store, grab coffee with interior design bloggers... SKY IS THE LIMIT.
The more you put yourself out there, the more opportunities will come across your path.
5. How to talk to your family.
Tough conversations with parents can be scary, I know. But remember that deep down all they really want for you is to be happy and healthy.
Before talking to your mom, I'd spend some time getting clear for yourself on what you feel the right next steps are for you. If you're in a place where you need to ask everyone for their opinion, you're not there yet, so spend more time feeling into your decision.
Then when you decide to talk to her, frame everything in a positive light. Talk about how much you've learned about your industry at school, your desire to pursue home decor and your reasons why. If you phrase everything in a way that makes it seem like you are growing and moving toward a career you love, which is ultimately what you're trying to do, your mom should be able to accept it.
If she doesn't, it's important to put up boundaries and not let the negative opinions of the one's we love cloud our own truth and intuition. Parents mean well. They really, really do. But sometimes they can't help but project their own fears onto us. And when they do, it causes us to really doubt ourselves and sometimes even betray our truth, which keeps us stuck and confused for way longer than we ought to be.
So if your mom gets upset, remember those are her issues and fears, not yours. Being able to separate "her worry" from "your belief in yourself," is really important. That's why you should feel sure and secure before you decide to talk to her.
I really hope this helps you, Miss Anonymous! If anyone reading has advice or words of wisdom, please post 'em in the comments below.