The quarter-life crisis. Dreaded by 20-somethings everywhere. Is it a myth? A mere lie crafted by angst-y young adults, scared of taking the initiative?
I’m here to tell you that I was once one of the unbelievers. I scoffed at those who had professed to have lost their way in life. It seemed melodramatic and more the product of laziness or uninventiveness rather than an actual affliction.
I’ve always been a grand planner. I was the weirdo in 2nd grade who took the fluff assignment of, “what do you want to be when you grow up,” and ran with it – laying out a detailed plan of the steps I had to take in order to become a veterinarian. Not to mention the pet rescue I planned for the side to fill those hours I wasn’t at work.
Obviously, I’m not a veterinarian. I’ve changed paths several times since those days, but each time it was done mindfully and purposefully; I knew exactly what I was doing and where I wanted to go with it. I’ve gone from dreams of a veterinarian, to forensic scientist, case worker at a juvenile detention center, social researcher, to epidemiologist. As I grew and studied different things in school, my interests changed. For most people, this is pretty normal.
It didn’t occur to me that it was becoming a problem until the beginning of 2013. I realized that while I enjoyed public health, sitting in front of a computer manipulating data wasn’t doing it for me. I love people, and though I knew I was making a difference as an Epi, I wanted to be on the front lines, working with patients. This is when I decided to start taking prerequisites for nursing school. The University of Maryland, Baltimore had a great program that allowed non-nursing majors to go directly into a Masters program. Right away, I started chipping away at the prereqs. That fall I started with Anatomy & Physiology at the local community college. Spring had me in a lab coat handling bacteria in Microbiology. During summer I session, I took Nutrition. At this point though, I reevaluated my choice.
I have always been highly polarized in my academic talents: extremely bad at math but skilled in writing, art, and music. So why was I pursuing a career that allows for little to no creativity? It made no sense to me. From that epiphany on, I quit the nursing route completely. Why was I making life so hard for myself? Why not embrace my talent in writing? Journalism it was.
But wait, having some skills in graphic design would be helpful to supplement a writing career. Eureka! I’d become a graphic designer and write on the side. Two classes into the design program, and I quit. Not for me. Back to journalism.
At that point, the void made itself clear again. I narrowed down a few journalism programs in the UK and had a renewed sense of purpose.
Hold on, though. While money isn’t everything, will I be able to survive in a field that is increasingly seeing more and more layoffs? Underpaid and overworked? Would journalism take my love of writing in its bare hands and twist it to death?
This is where I finally found myself about a month and a half ago, with more questions than answers rolling around in my conflicted head. What to do?