I was always a girl with a plan.
In high school, I knew what I wanted to do in college. I wanted to major in social work, minor in sociology, get an on-campus job, and be a resident assistant. I did all that with great success.
In college, I knew I needed good grades, multiple internship experiences, and work part time. I was making myself marketable and so I could get a great job right out of college. There was no time for drinking or partying.
Shortly after graduating, I applied to the state of Connecticut’s Child Protective Services (Department of Children and Families) and I got the job.
At DCF, I wanted to stand out so I could move up without issues. I participated in outside events, was the chair of the activities committee, volunteered at the Dad’s Matter Too Walks, made genuine connections with my co-workers, and moved from social worker to investigator rather quickly.
Then there was no next step. I reached my goals. I was sitting in the office that I could potentially sit in for the next 40 years. I was in my early 20’s and about to ride this career out for the rest of my life.
I would have consistent raises, benefits, vacation time, sick time, personal time, 401k, and everything I needed. I was supposed to feel happy, accomplished, and secure. What I actually felt was worried.
When I looked around my desk, I saw burnt-out, jaded faces. People who worked too much overtime and took their stress home with them. I knew I didn’t want that to be my life 30 years from now. I don’t want to lose faith in the good of the world and I didn’t want this job to consume my life.
I panicked. I started to question my decisions. Should I have been so determined to get this far this quickly? Why did I push myself this hard? Should I have waited until I was 30 to apply for this job? Did I miss out on life?
Had I thrown away my 16 – 23 year old life to be an adult too quickly?
I started to wonder if it was a mistake to be in a serious relationship throughout high school and college. Could I have had more fun? Could I have met somebody better than my ex? Lord knows I wasn’t happy with him, but I stayed because we were 5 years deep and didn’t want to admit to failure.
I started to think of my aunt who passed away before 40. What if I’m not guaranteed a long life either? What if I’m missing unknown treasures because I’m too wrapped up in the planned out “perfect” me?
I had no idea what I wanted anymore. It felt like my midlife crisis came way too early.
I was afraid to give up my career. I worked too hard to let it go, but I wasn’t satisfied with the future I saw for myself.
So I had two choices. I could stay on this safe path. I knew my future, I worked hard for it, and I could make the most of it.
Or I could take a totally random turn and go for something crazy.
Coincidentally, my friend was online looking for reality shows to audition for around this time. He found one he liked and asked if I would apply with him. I said sure, why not? I knew I wasn’t going to get picked. I thought it would make me feel better about my situation. At least I could have a cool story about how I tried to get on a reality show.
I applied and to my surprise, I got picked. And that’s when I couldn’t hide any longer. It wasn’t all talk anymore. It was do or die. My bluff was called.
And to an even bigger surprise (not only to myself, but all my friend and family), I went for it. I quit my job and said “f*** it”.
That was the beginning of a new life. One that has sent me on a whirlwind. One that has no plan or direction.
I would like to tell you it’s been an amazing, fun filled ride. But honestly, it’s had a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision. Sometimes I’m proud of the risk I took and look forward to what’s coming. Every day brings new emotions because I am still trying to figure out what I want out of this life.
And when I get all stressed out because I can’t figure out where I’m supposed to be, I have to remember the girl that planned every step. I have to remember how afraid I was of not living life. How dreadful it felt that I missed out on unknown treasures while blindly following my charted course. I must remind myself this is what it takes to grow.
I don’t have a secure job anymore. I don’t know if I’m going back into social work. All I know is that I am learning what I am made of every day. This path is leading me somewhere I’d never thought I’d be.
Whether that’s a good thing or not…we will find out.
Stay tuned 🙂