What do I really want? What am I actually after here? 

This is what my meditation prompts me to think about today.

9:30am I’m facing the window in my room, eyes closed, with my legs crossed gently and hands resting lightly on top of my thighs. Over the past few months I’ve built a consistent meditation habit, practicing 10-15 minutes each morning (thanks, Calm!) I follow it with a passage from The Daily Stoic, a book which provides an excerpt from the writings from ancient Stoic leaders, accompanied by an explanation of how the teaching can be applied to daily life. This was a gift from my boyfriend, and in truth it came at just the right time.

The first part of 2019 has been, for lack of a better word, hectic. Having left a position in the music industry in search of a new challenge, I was happy to start a new media/sales job in the fall – only to have it apart at the seams come February. While there were signs that this opportunity was not as it seemed, its inevitable end left me unsteady. Having discerned that this was simply a poor fit weeks prior to being let go, I continued to persist, showing up daily ready to prove to my manager that I was worthy of my position, and prove to myself – along with family and friends – that my decision in taking this job wasn’t for naught. You know when you date someone you are fairly excited about and try to make it work, only to be dumped a few months in? Well, it felt like that. Objectively I understand that this was just a job, and that I am imperfect, and that is okay. I took a risk, and it didn’t pan out. My ego, however, was not so easily unbruised.

10:15am Headed into the city to take The Class by Taryn Toomey. Did I knock it the first time I tried it? You bet. But the joke was on me, because now I’m absolutely obsessed. There is no other workout class wherein you can dance, move, scream, and shout at the top of your lungs without judgement. There is a mirror to check form, but the real focus is turned inward. I feel it is one of the few places I can go in this city to escape, to fully release, so I make sure I am in that studio 2x per week.

For the past couple of months, I’ve retreated into myself. I took the month of February to refresh and to ease the tension built up from months of emotional exhaustion. I went to California to visit a good friend to provide some perspective. After 4.5 years of hustling through various professional experiences ranging from turbulent to toxic, I realized was effectively burnt out. While I was happy to be out of an unhealthy work environment, I was simultaneously discouraged and lost, caught in a pattern of self shame and blame. However illogical I knew it was, there were times when I did not feel worthy of anything, namely committed relationships, unconditional love, or multiple chances. Why should my boyfriend, a person that has himself together professionally, stay with me, a work in progress? Why should my parents offer help after sending me to both private school and college? Why would my friends, all very high-achieving and wonderful individuals, deal with me while I figure this all out? With these thoughts becoming more regular and feeling less and less like myself, I started therapy again, and not a moment too soon. It is there that I reminded that I am not defined by my career, nor can my identity be minimized to my results. I am worthy, no matter my present situation, and to lean into the less glamorous parts of the process, however uncomfortable.

2:10pm Back in Brooklyn, thinking about this mornings meditation. What do I really want? What am I actually after here?

In the short term: increased knowledge and security, in both my job and finances. To admit that I want to make real money here and now is something I’ve been afraid to fully accept for years, fearing the abandonment of my creative roots.

Longer term: I want to be an impeccably strong communicator, create meaningful relationships/partnerships, mentor young women in business, empower communities through the arts, and help bring new voices to the surface. I want to continue to learn about philosophy, music, language, interpersonal theory and communications. I want to be financially free, making enough money to live well in the location of my choosing (and to travel regularly) and also enough to give comfortably to initiatives outside of myself. And I want to do it on my terms.

4:30pm As I spend another afternoon on the job hunt, scouring LinkedIn, Indeed and Vettery for new opps, I realize the abundance of choices that lay in front of me. After almost two months of unemployment, of feeling powerless to my circumstances, I feel both re-energized and excited to find something new, to change directions, to explore a new skill set. In knowing I can only focus on what I can control, and that each new opportunity will present a chance to learn and grow, I can only look forward to whatever is next for me.

Sometimes You Need to Quit Your Job

I left my first job on Friday. I was always told to trust my instincts and for over a month something simply did not feel right. Instead of choosing to return to the office on Monday, I spoke with HR and simply told her that while I greatly appreciated the opportunity I was not happy and felt that it would be better for myself and the company if I collected my things and moved forward. In an industry where literally 50 people are queued up and ready to take your place, I knew there was someone better suited for the job long-term. It just wasn’t me.

Yes, I am now unemployed. My mom, while shocked that I would make such a decision in this unpredictable job climate, is being supportive and understanding, as I would often call her during my lunch breaks to help restore some of my strength. I made certain that I had over 6 months of expenses saved up, and obviously I will be cutting back a lot, something I should have been doing anyway. I will also need to choose whether or not I will keep my job on my resume or not, which I have yet to decide given the mixed feedback from those I have confided in. It is frightening, it is exciting, and my dad has no idea.

I am well aware that your first job is not always your favorite and that I need experience in the work place. Then again, it should not take every fiber of your being to get out of bed every morning and motivate yourself to do your job. The pressure after college to find a job immediately is serious, and the expectation that you will know exactly what you want to do is forced on us from the time we enter high school. I do not subscribe to the theory that everything needs to be “figured out” right away – there are still adults figuring it out at this moment. My whole young adult life up to last week I had thought I wanted to be a talent agent. My entire undergraduate career, extracurriculars and internships were centered around that goal. Now thinking that my career goals are no longer what I originally thought is probably the most terrifying piece of this, but I have no doubt that there is something better out there just for me and I am not willing to settle for whatever is thrown my way. The last thing I want to do is make leaving a job a pattern of mine, which is why the next few weeks are going to involve a very thorough evaluation of where I want to go next.

While not having a job is scary, there is something to be said about the fact that I was relieved after leaving the office. Even waking up today knowing that I would not have to clock in was a bit jarring as I was used to having the structure, it is thrilling because I have no idea what I am going to do next. I know that I have an incredible arsenal of skills from my academic career and degree (communications) and those developed over the years of collaborating, learning, and growing inside and outside of the classroom, so it is those I will bring into my job. My work ethic is strong when I am passionate about the tasks at hand, and that passion is what I am searching for. I have also had time to think about my other interests and goals outside of agency work, and want to explore editorial, PR, non profit, or even sports careers. Then there’s grad school and entrepreneurship, two things that have always interested me but I have put off with the idea that I should have some “real world” experience first. I am getting a do-over, and now everything is on the table.

More than anything, I have been thinking about my wants, something that I don’t do much given my tendency to want to please those around me. If I am going to go back to a standard desk job, I will need to be in a high-energy and collaborative environment, not simply sitting behind computer day in and day out. I need to be hands on and able to interact and connect with those around me, because that is where I thrive. It is possible that I am not made to be at a desk five days a week, and I need to be hands on and see my work come to fruition in a meaningful and tangible way, and feel a sense of fulfillment knowing I made an impact. These are the things I need most to be my best as an employee.

College students: please do not grab the first opportunity that comes your way if you are not at least 75% sure about it, just to appease others. Also, keep an open mind. I’ve learned there are so many avenues out there that you can take, and it might be one that you never considered but aligns directly with your passion. If you are money motivated, there are literally countless ways to make a great living for yourself that your parents or college may have never told you about outside of being a lawyer or doctor. Explore those avenues to the fullest, and do not let a looming graduation date override your intuition.