My last quarter of college, I attended a “Life Skills” seminar. I was 3 credits shy of graduating, so yes, I spent my last quarter writing a super-serious thesis on adulting. We talked a lot about fear, and how this can be crippling for some people, preventing them from diving into their careers after college.
I distinctly remember sitting there unphased. Still hot off an earth-shattering breakup, I was too consumed with my own reality to understand this concept. Fear of graduating? My personal life was a mess, so the only thing that remotely made sense was my career. I couldn’t relate.
I had just started an internship at GUESS? Jeans in Los Angeles, working in their newly formed social media department and was on my way to that 9-5 postgrad dream. The work came easily to me, I enjoyed it, and I was exhilarated by my newfound “career girl” identity.
Regrettably, I didn’t understand why new grads felt lost. I rationalized their insecurities as a result of lack of preparedness. Maybe they hadn’t done the right internships, networked enough, been as laser-focused as I had been. Thoughts of 21 year old Melina, don’t judge.
But, fast forward 4 years and here I sit. Spending my birthday—a day I consciously took off from work to give myself some “head space”—fighting off a looming anxiety that I can't quite place. Simultaneously feeling like, on paper, I have everything together. And yet, in reality, nothing figured out.
I hacked it to New York (1 point). I have a full-time job (2 points). I have a cozy home (3 points). I have people I love (Priceless. Note: while their inclusion in this list does not prove my point, it felt wrong to exclude them).
And yet, I feel stuck.
Now, before you peg me for One of Those Millennials, let me say this: This is by no means a "woe is me" ramble. It's an acknowledgement, written in solidarity with anyone else who has also come to the enlightening, yet terrifying conclusion that they might want more from life than just a series of tallied points.
All I know is...I want to write. I want to capture meaningful moments. I want my photos to elicit something more than just a “double tap” on Instagram. I want to be that nebulous creative that sits at a coffee shop all day making really serious faces into their Macbook. I want to be SJP aka Carrie Bradshaw and pay for my fabulous Upper East Side apartment off a single freelance writing gig.
And in the process of all these wants, I have finally discovered a much overdue empathy for all my senior seminar classmates. While they were paying their dues in the Lost category, I was busy convincing myself it all made sense. But now? Well, I wouldn’t be surprised if they had it all figured out, while I suddenly find myself crippled by my own fear...just a few years too late.
Although I’ve never considered myself someone in need of motivation, I can’t figure out how to make this next jump. I’m ready for that big life pivot—yes, even bigger than the one that brought me here. But, I don't know how to navigate this. My phone has died and I'm walking around with a half-missing Thomas Guide (SoCal reference, bear with me)...too stubborn to admit it's time to ask for some direction(s).
Even though I have no idea what this major change entails, I can tell you this much: it isn’t going to come from a shiny new job or an impressively expensive grad school degree. It’s only going to come from within, and I’m uncharacteristically afraid of trying to make it happen. It's a fear of not only the unknown, but of everything I still have yet to learn.
So, to anyone reading this who has made the leap into starting their own business I... 1) applaud you 2) envy you 3) would love to chat with you.
And for everyone else: keep on working, creating, doing. I'm right there with you.