Why I’m Starting Over Before I’m 30 (It’s the Responsible Thing to Do)

“Ugh, I hate my job.” — Everyone?

At 28, I’m a newbie. Sure, I have a Master’s degree and more than five years’ professional experience under my belt, but for the most part, it’s blatantly obvious I don’t really know what I’m doing.

Yet, since graduating into the world of supposedly responsible decision-making, too often I’ve found myself vehemently declaring my attitude toward work for which I’ve expended a tremendous amount of time and emotional energy just to secure.

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It’s called “Happy Hour” for a reason.

Some of you can relate. You made the effort in school, earned the grades that were expected of you as such a promising future-builder, and were plucked ripe and pretty by the first rapacious suitor who made you an offer just lucrative enough to prevent you from having to admit your poverty and crawl back to your parents for their not-so-free food and diatribes on adulthood, or lack-thereof. You convinced yourself of your independence and within a few years, you’d bolstered your bank account, divested yourself of a roommate or two or three, and generally entered into a pattern of passive-aggressive acceptance of your lot in the professional world.

You were miserable.

More and more, you found yourself missing the “good old days,” when we all just barely afforded our community, deepening our bonds over beer-flavored water at the sketchy corner bar, sharing parental anecdotes from our latest Skype check-ins, feeling at once nostalgic and comforted that our #Friendsgiving was sure to be as epic as ever.

So, you threw yourself back into work, sure that if only you could earn that next raise or extra vacation day, things would start to sort themselves out.

But it never happened. Money and vacation days didn’t buy passion and inspiration… although you might’ve discovered a direct correlation between actually using vacation days and feeling inspired to quit your job.

And once you were inspired enough to quit your job, you might also have found yourself considering your options for pursuing a more passionate and inspired life in general.

Maybe you began to experience a sort of existential crisis, a pull between what society says is responsible — to keep working to make ends meet and be a self-sufficient human being — versus desperately wanting to feel fulfilled and meaningful. Maybe you also realized the two aren’t mutually exclusive.

And if that’s the case, then hearing all of your friends constantly complain about how they hate their jobs, realizing you’re tired of echoing those sentiments so sincerely, might just have brought you to the conclusion that there’s nobody to blame but your oh-so-effing-special selves.

If all of this sounds familiar, then you might have discovered that something funny happens when you reach this point: At 28 years old, this is where you really start to grow up. Because realizing there’s nobody else to blame for your circumstances must mean there’s nobody else to change them either!

Profound, isn’t it?

Sure, there are some institutional failures that make our modern educational system an easy scapegoat (never mind the fact that thanks to that same system, you’re more than capable of debating in-depth each of those flaws). But the truth is, when I look at my friends who have opted to pursue their passions regardless of the traditional concept of responsible adulthood, they’re whom I consider to be the most successful. I want to be like them when I grow up.

And it’s never too late to grow up. It might mean starting over from scratch, and maybe even more than once, but so what? I have no attachments other than those I’ve chosen for myself — I am not only free to pursue a life I love and enjoy, but it’s my privilege to do so. And to waste a privilege seems mighty irresponsible.

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3 comments

  1. […] my job because I felt like I was getting paid (barely) to be a hypocrite every day. Deciding to push the “restart” button on my life and goals and dreams requires a modicum of bravery on my part every […]

  2. […] me out. A couple months ago, I wrote about “Why I’m Starting Over Before I’m 30.” I’d decided that being unhappy in my career was lazy and stupid. I’m pretty sure I was […]

  3. […] about being in your twenties: Your parents are starting to see you as an adult. Sure, you know you’ve been an adult for years, but now that you’re out of the house (hopefully), they’re actually starting to see you as one. […]

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