Thursday, September 3, 2009

Clever Titles and Life From Here on Out

Here I sit, 22 years old, a BA under my belt, and a part-time work schedule which fills my weeks that might pay my many student loans to be paid in the months/years to come. Before I continue, but before I prolong this piece of writing for too long, let me reassure the reader that I have thought out the point of this blog entry and what is certain is that this is not a blog-rant where I essentially write a diary entry online with the assumption/hope that someone will care. In case my opening line hinted at that kind of writing let me put your boredom to rest and continue on.

So, as I have said, I am out of college now, I possess an expensive degree, I have some great friends that seem like they will last, though some have already dwindled away, and now I must answer the very frequented question, "what are you going to do now?" Every single person reaches this point in their life--this point in which they have finished what they were doing and now will inevitably do something else. So many books and motivational speeches are given on this topic. It seems to be cliche and yet, I ask myself this question every day, "what am I going to do now."

To give a little context, at the beginning of this summer, I snagged myself three part time jobs that all mustered up to 36 hours a week. That's like working full time--kind of, except without benefits. Since then one job has effortlessly fallen to the waist side, my dog kennel assistantship which seemed just to be a seasonal summer job while everyone goes on vacation and leaves their dogs in someone else's care. Simultaneously, my sales associate position at Cost Plus World Market has invited me to work more hours bumping me up to working part-time over (20-35 hrs/ week). The third job is a volunteer position at my church's Reading Room, where I manage the merchandise and serve one shift a week.

Somehow, by working three random jobs week after week, they have already begun to move themselves like plate tectonics--the dog kennel job ending and the World Market job growing. It then occurs to me that perhaps life is in motion all on its own. Certainly I make choices for myself, I wake up, make a day for myself and then go to sleep. However, with just a little effort from my own hands, it seems that life is moving my choices forward and backward in a way that seems to all work together.

So now I return to my prodding question, "what will I do now." My retail job is not what I intend to do for the rest of my life and the customers I strike up conversations with at World Market assume to the same as well. Many customers can tell that I am in or just out of school and often ask me about my schooling and then follow up by asking, "what are you going to do now?" obviously insinuating that I am not already stationed at my career's end, which is true.

What is fascinating though, is while I once assumed that my "career" would include saving the world, working in Washington DC, or a variety of other vague options that end up making me important, as those who study International Relations should be, I am surprised by how satisfied I am with my retail job. I like selling the ever "authentic, unique and affordable" World Market merchandise as well as bonding with customers while I do it. I have a great boss who is wonderful mentor for management and team building. And before I know it, my temporary, "easy" retail job has turned into a new avenue of a career that I thought I was only resting on until I figured something else out. Again, it seems quite truly that life is in motion and my random choices have led me right where I need to be.

Since becoming aware of my potential to work in retail I have a whole new vision for where I might be headed, for instance being a buyer for World Market which would send me around the world to buy those items which I currently love to sell and talk about excitedly with customers. And I don't think I would be a very good buyer without the grassroots experience I am getting now of working in store and hearing customer's reactions to products.

So good for me, why do you care? Thus far in this piece I have spoken in specifics--specific to my life--however, at the beginning of the summer I wished there was a handbook that was going to make my mysterious future make sense or have some context. This is my effort to document for whomever else might benefit what I am learning and build my version of a handbook.

I have learned that we make choices that make sense at the time even if they seem small and inconsequential or even unconnected what you think you should do. In my case, I still don't know the exact timeline of where I'm headed or how I'll get there, but now I somehow magically know more than I did before. I have found that I don't need to know where I am going to be a year from now. I am where I am today and that is enough because whenever tomorrow comes I'm pretty sure that will be enough and I'll have what I'll need then too.

Whenever we come to these crossroads where we need to redefine ourselves all we can do is turn down a road that looks good and if that's not the right road it'll become clear (as was the case for me at the dog kennel, and then the owner soon after didn't need the extra help any more). If it's the right road it will keep expanding until a new road appears. So, while I have been wishing I had something impressive to tell people when they asked me what I am doing with my life, life evolves as it will in its own time and should only be impressive so far as it is satisfying to oneself. Though I have no clever title for this piece, and though I still don't have a job title that says much, I am where I need to be, I am who I am, life is moving forward and that is enough. The rest will come.

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