It may seem arrogant to claim I know where I will end up or what I will be doing given the uncertainties of the world we live in. However, I have every right to chart a course and I don’t have to be open to every opportunity that comes my way. What a fool’s errand that would be.
It’s been very hard for me, as an open person, always interested in the next thing, to figure out what I really wanted for a career. I also feel that the difficulties have been exacerbated by the fact that I had avoided deciding what to think for myself for quite a while, which was in many ways a product of socialization. From Cosmo magazine telling me the nuts and bolts of sex to the latest self help scam to the emerging field of “happiness” research, everyone has an opinion on how to live your life. Not least, family and friends who love you and may have your best interests at heart but that doesn’t mean they know best. It finally hit home, not least when I was traveling across Europe alone (think Taken), that ultimately, I am the one who has to live with the consequences of my decisions for the rest of my life. Sure, they will have an impact on other people, and I can take that into consideration as I want, but truly, I am the only person responsible for the consequences. So the mistakes are mine to make. And usually, I know what I want and what is good for me, I just have trouble admitting it.
As a Libra, making decisions is a horrible thing. As a go with the flow person who is also a bit add, making decisions is a horrible thing. As a woman, as a “good” person, as whatever class of human you want to say, making decisions is not easy. Since according to some commencement speech or proverb or what have you (always question the source), 90% of your happiness is determined by your spouse and your job. This makes a ton of intuitive sense, and I’ve done a boatload of thinking on both topics. At the time of writing, I have neither a spouse nor a job. I am a single graduate student about to travel around the world, so…. In short, after reading all the good advice I could find on making decisions and careers and what have you, I MADE A DECISION!
Why rush it? I am only 1 month into my graduate program, and I still have about 11 more to go before I can start a job. I have nothing pressuring to have a specific path in mind, in fact the opposite situation is at hand with the sainted career services lady trying to get me to open my mind. Because it’s business school, of course I am thinking about a job, because if I wanted to learn, I would have gone to get a PhD. That’s not entirely tongue-in-cheek, I am learning a TON of things, most of which I never would have had a clue about had I gone the academic route, such as leadership and finance. Since my career goals have always been about making an impact, I don’t think those tols will hurt me. The most important topic I’m learning about is myself. It is the me generation, and self-awareness is the key to being a good leader, follower, employee, daughter, sister, spouse, friend. In my humble opinion represented by this blog. And myself says you will be happy if you are working towards what you want. You are unhappy when figuring out what you want, if only because you want to do something rather than spend your life trying to figure out what. You know yourself better than you think, and you know what you want. And that is?
- I want to work on public policy at a federal and international level. Jobs of this kind are mostly likely to be found in Washington, NY, some places with major academic activity like the West Coast, Paris, Strasbourg, Brussels, or London.
How I could ever have doubted this, I don’t know. I am the ultimate news junkie and salivate any time I get to talk about how institutions shape behavior, not to mention participating in every government related extra curricular since high school. The things you learn listening to people talk about where they live, even if what they do is kind of boring.
- I am best at strategic planning and analysis (or so my mentor of several years says, and I independently concluded in different words on my own.) So I want to work at a think tank.
- I want to have roots. I want to live in a place for at least 2 years before moving on, and make a circle of friends I can count on in my adult life, able to go for coffee. Thankfully, I already have some great people in my life who are accessible at any distance, but independent as I am, I would be happy to have a posse. My forever connections are centered around my hometown in central NJ, and I would, as a general rule, like to see my family for more holidays than Christmas.
Given the fact that I am an American citizen, have no prospects for EU citizenship besides becoming a mail order bride, and don’t write any languages but English at a professional level, I’d say that currently, my best bets are in the US. I don’t really like NY, if I am going to be a plane ride away from the fam might as well be in Europe, and better policy jobs are available in DC. Not to mention the fact that my professional network is centered around DC, aka finding a job just got a lot easier.
Conveniently enough, the place with the best job prospects for what I want to do also has the best social prospects. Being able to speak the local language at native proficiency is mucho helpful in making friends, not that a tight expat community couldn’t entice me at some other point. It would also be nice to be surrounded by people with similar professional interests looking to make an impact on the world (aka DC, where I have made awesome friends three summers out of four, and pined for the one I was in central NJ in my hometown). Similarly, I assume my dating prospects, would also be quite good, as I prefer the grade A American beefcake to foreign stock.
Might there be other cities, other countries, other climes I would love? Yes, certainly. And there’s no saying I have to stay in DC and never move for the rest of my working life. I would love to go back to France as an experienced professional who could get someone to sponsor me to work there who would pay me a decent salary. I would love to go to France when I have a close knit group of friends I can give updates to and come back to. But right now, there are other things I want in life, and fortunately, I’m sure I will always be back to France.
There are many parts of happiness. There is a me-happiness part that wants to fulfill my individual desires, and there is a we-happiness part that wants to thrive as a bonded member of a group.O yes, and did I mention I already know awesome people in DC? And pretty much the coolest people I’ve ever met, I’ve met there. I would say that after my intl MBA program, when I will have traveled to all the habitable continents besides Latin America, lived in France for a total of 10 months and 2 birthdays, and just generally done a ton of bad-ass stuff, I’m ready to work on the we-happiness part. Yes, I can and do go to the movies alone, have traveled a continent alone, and have not been in a relationship of significance for four years and while I find it irksome, I’d rather be alone than with the wrong person. It’s not fear of being alone, it is wanting something more and realizing that the universe is better with other people you love in it, and also near you. For me, this is the case. There are solitary perpetual wanderers out there, but it’s not for me.
So this is how I have chosen my destination, and while my heart will always go on in search of novelty, and a part of me is extra alive in France, I can’t build my life on not missing out on anything. You can’t have everything at all times, and that’s ok, because I know what I need to have enough. And so I am free to pursue my dreams without regret.
More on my awesome career journey later.