best for you

I graduated from college over a year ago now. In the past year, I have moved across the country (twice), I have moved out of my parent’s house and into my own apartment, I’ve applied to jobs, have gone to interviews and have received rejections, I’ve worked part-time, I’ve interned, and have become gainfully employed with benefits and everything, and I’m still learning how to recognize what is best for me.

As a senior in college, I thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be living in New York City working in the publishing industry. As I neared my graduation day, it became clearer and clearer to me that what I wanted may not be something I could achieve – or at least, not at that point in time. So, I was faced with “what’s next” and I had to decide my next move, literally and figuratively.

Did I move home to my small town in Pennsylvania and live with my father and search for jobs in New York City? Did I move to California, where my mother had relocated while I was in college and search for jobs while I was there? Suddenly, I was faced with uprooting my dreams, uprooting my plans, and uprooting myself.

It’s hard to know what’s right, and to figure out how one decision is going to affect all of your decision, you happiness, your success, your life. I’m slowly learning that it’s not one decision, but many decisions that matter. Having the courage and the faith in myself is what helps make those mistakes, along with the knowledge that I am not alone in this. My parents before me, my friends and peers, and the generations of twenty–somethings who come after, have all been faced with challenging decisions and questions to answer. I also remind myself that failure is not a weakness, it is how we build muscle to grow.

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We may not always know what’s best for ourselves because sometimes we are too close to the situation to see it clearly. That is when we call in the troops and ask our parents or perhaps, a friend, a trusted colleague, or a college advisor for advice. Each decision we make helps us shape our ability to make better decisions for ourselves in the future.

I didn’t wake up one morning and have the ability to recognize what is “best” for me. I am still building that skill, with experience, feelings, and knowledge as the brick and mortar. My first big post-graduation decision was to move to California. I chose not to give up on my publishing dream but to put it aside as I explored new options and new parts of myself.

Moving across the country to a paradise-like town where my mother was the only I person I knew was hard. I was miserable for several months, and I questioned my decision constantly. The “what if,” nagged on me until I realized I had to look at the “this is it for now” and be present in my decision. I had to take ownership and own up to the choice I made, not that it was a bad one – it was an invaluable experience – and at the time of my decision, it was the choice I had felt was right for me.

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Sometimes, we feel that we are faced with only one option – to move home, to take that one job, to choose that one major – because we think we will never have any other opportunity. I am telling you, my dear twenty-somethings, that there are always more options, but sometimes the only one you see is the one that you feel is right for you in that moment.

Take it from me: I thought moving to California was my only option for a fresh start because I couldn’t fathom moving back to my town where I had grown up. I thought I had to get away from everything I knew and everything familiar in order to find myself and find what I was supposed to be doing with my life.

What I have come to realize, with much discussion and reflection, is that knowing what’s best for me more about trusting my self and my initial gut-feeling, doing research so I know all the options I can present myself with, and a small (or sometimes large) leap of faith (or insane courage depending on how you look at it).

What I’m trying to say is that once I stopped doubting myself and comparing myself to other people’s success, my decision and my path became clearer. This doesn’t mean that I won’t trip up sometimes or make mistakes. I will, because I’m human and I’m still young and figuring everything out. For now, though, I know myself, I know what I want and what I hope for, and I seek opportunities to head towards that.

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