In 6th grade, you get asked what you want to do with your life. You respond with a generic, childlike answer, but it satisfies the teachers and administration staff and they give you your first junior high schedule. 90% of the classes are required by everyone, the other 10% are accommodated based on your answer. As students, we go with it. Junior high is a means to an end to get us to high school. Our answers were never serious. In 8th grade just before you graduate, the high school guidance counselors visit and ask you again what you want to do with the rest of your life. This time, they are serious. Your answer determines what classes you will take for the next four years. I can tell you that 99% of us as eighth graders did not know they wanted our serious answers. We didn’t know we were supposed to be thinking about this for the last 3 years of our lives. I must have said doctor. I don’t really remember. Next thing I know, I’m enrolled in every advanced math and science class my test scores qualified me for.
“How about this… Who the hell knows?” -Jessica Stanley, Valedictorian speech
I spent the next four years in math and science. I spent those four years preparing for a major in premed-biology. I became a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) my senior year of high school and had one of the highest grades in the class. Medical terms and bedside manners came naturally to me. This is what I was meant to do, right?
Wrong. I graduated high school and went on to be a biology major. 3 semesters in, I was miserable. I hated my chemistry classes and I was failing my biology classes. Somehow, I passed with a D. Never again. I transferred universities. I stayed a biology major. I was happier. I got a job as a CNA and worked in a small town hospital for 9 months. That semester, I passed my biology class with an A, but I failed biochemistry. To top it off, I hated my job as a CNA. To this day, I can’t quite place why I hated it, but I did even though I was good at it. I was also the nurses’ favorite CNA to work with because I did my job and did it well. When I was doing the job, I wasn’t thinking about how much I hated being in the medical field, but when I finally left the beeping of the IV pumps and vital sign monitors and the obnoxious call alarms that alerts nurses and CNAs that a patient is in need of something, it was all I could think about. This is not what I wanted to do.
Flash forward 2 years and I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Sociology and Psychology. I loved my major, excelled in it even – I graduated with the outstanding graduate award for the social science department. My life drastically changed and went down a path I never expected. I knew I still wanted to help people, but I didn’t know how exactly I wanted to do that. The opportunity arose for me to intern in Washington, D.C. and I quickly jumped on it. I would be lying if I said I didn’t immediately fall in love with the District of Columbia area. Because of that, when a position opened up in the office I am interning in, I immediately applied. I didn’t get the position. After I was told they would not be pursuing my application further, I could barely stay until 5pm that day – I felt like I had failed. I couldn’t breathe and I wanted to be alone. I went home, crawled into bed, and watched Netflix. I was mad – mad at the people that didn’t want to hire me and mad at myself because I felt I wasn’t good enough.
I threw myself a pity party.
I learned that it is completely okay to need a pity party after being rejected for a job, failing an exam, messing up a speech or presentation, or if your day just is not going the way you wanted it to. In my case, this was my first real job post-college that I had interviewed for. The next day, I woke up and went to my internship, put a smile on my face and did my job. If I am being completely honest, had this organization not been a cause that is close to my heart, I would have lost all motivation to be here. I didn’t want to have to face the people that had turned me for another day. I soon realized that this job was not meant to be and that is okay too. I’m back at the drawing board and trying to figure out who I am and where I’m supposed to be. Maybe in a few years time, something will bring me back to Washington, D.C., and when it does, I won’t say no.
It is okay to be throw yourself a pity party. In fact, it’s healthy even. It isn’t healthy to bottle up your emotions and pretend everything is okay when it isn’t. It is okay to bury yourself under your blankets and escape to someone else’s reality for a few hours whether that is your favorite TV shows, a movie, or a book. It is also okay to scream, cry, or sleep. It gives your brain time to process what has happened and what needs to come next. It gives you time to breathe. It gives you time to figure out what comes next.
IT. IS. OKAY.
“Your dream doesn’t have an expiration date. Take a deep breath and try again.”