22 Oct Owning Your Story
Post-graduation blues hit me really hard. After the conclusion of an academic career I was proud of, I was unable to get a job anywhere. I was living in my childhood bedroom with my new husband which was a blessing (thanks mom and dad) but obviously not ideal. This lasted about a year during which my self-worth and confidence plummeted. I did not recognize the girl in the graduation cap, the one that had turned the tassel just one year earlier.
Whether it’s comforting or concerning (I haven’t decided yet), a lot of millennials I’ve talked with have experienced this same identity shift. We’ve braved a unique storm created by the simultaneous rise of social media and drop in employment rates just as we joined the workforce. This baking-soda-and-vinegar mixture has left us to try to cobble together a career we can speak about without stuttering when we see relatives or run into college friends.
“So what do you do?”
All the while, highlights from a ‘more successful’ someone’s Insta gallery play in our brains. We hold up our behind-the-scenes mess next to their highlight reel and down, down, down we go. Out for the count.
Here is the reality though, friend – everyone doubts, hoping that the way they trade their days is worthwhile. Everyone turns their eyes to the skies and wonders if there is something better. Everyone looks over their shoulder occasionally and wonders if maybe they missed it. So, in light of this very impactful, universal experience we’re all minimizing I wanted to give you/me/us some permission slips to use whenever we find ourselves on the mat, out for the count:
I give you permission to not be satisfied with where you are. But under one condition: you must resist the temptation to deem your present circumstances shameful or embarrassing. Own where you are with your face towards the future. You won’t be here forever and, more likely than not, where you are right now is a critical stepping stone to where you are going. It’s usually not where you are that’s the problem, it’s how you think about where you are.
I give you permission to drop the expectations of others. The high school classmates that always thought you’d ‘make it big’ or the family member who heaps your potential on your back like a burden. Feeling like you’ve let someone down when you speak the truth about where you are in your journey can be unshakable. Let those heavy weights drop.
I give you permission to be content if you truly love where you are in your journey, despite its humble or hidden nature. What a courageous, counter-cultural concept. Be fully content, dear heart, because contentment is what we’re all looking for in the end.
Finally, I give you permission to say, “I don’t know.” Because none of us do. And that’s okay.
I don’t know when I will get promoted.
I don’t know when I will get married.
I don’t know when I will finish school.
I don’t know when I will get a job that utilizes my hard-earned degree.
I don’t know.
Then remind yourself of what you do know: you are kind, and funny, and capable. Maybe your a great listener or you make an amazing homemade creme brûlée. You exist on purpose and you are the lead character in a story uniquely yours. Don’t waste precious time comparing your pages to the pages of others’. Theirs is a story completely their own, with unique plot twists and challenges. Be fully present. Do your best. Own your story.