Rookie Year Reflection: The false assumption that we have it all figured out

My 22nd year was one of transformation, and I am still figuring it out. Taylor Swift said it best: “We are happy, free, confused and lonely at the same time.” Hell yeah we are, honey. I have had extremely happy moments and extremely lonely moments. I have never felt more freedom in my life to make decisions and do what I want to do, while at the same time feeling confused about what I want to do and my “why.”

Happy (and cold) moments with my human

I just turned 23 and today marks my official one-year anniversary in my full-time career, so I have done some reflection on the emotional roller coaster that has been my “Rookie Year.” It has had its incredible ups and very confusing downs, and the end conclusion is that I still have NO IDEA who I am meant to be…and that is perfectly okay.

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn and I am still coming to terms with it. One day I will wake up feeling motivated and excited to work hard and make a difference, while others days I feel like I am a complete failure with no purpose. To be honest, the latter has been the more common theme of the past six months.

the world is your oyster

Your “Rookie Year” is an interesting shift of events and mindset. You’re entire life has been set out for you up until this point. When I was 10 years old, I could tell you exactly what I would be doing at 15 and 20 years old. When you graduate from college, they tell you that the world is your oyster, it’s yours for the taking….and that, in and of itself, is both exhilarating and terrifying.

Yes, I can pay my bills, I have a stable job and I have a strong relationship – I am very grateful for these comforts in my life. On the other hand, these comforts do not discount how trying the first year out of college can be, and personally, I am just struggling with things you cannot see.

I am often times overwhelmed by the vast possibility of options and sometimes crippled with fear of making decisions I will regret. This fear makes it difficult for me to take risks and have faith that things will work out. Not to mention that I am always so busy searching for my next great, big, beautiful adventure that I often struggle to live my life right now, every day, in this very moment. Another thing I am working on.

So did I seemingly have myself together in high school more than I did in college? Yes, no doubt.

Did I seemingly have myself together in college more than I do in adult life? No question.

BUT was I ever honest with myself until now about my own struggles and who I really want to be? Not at all.

Permission to Grow

I realize now that by self-inflicting so much pressure to be this “perfect human” that I thought everyone expected me to be, I did not give myself the opportunity to fail or change paths when I discovered a new passion. I did not give myself the permission to grow through experimenting or taking risks with my career to discover my purpose. I realize this now and would have done things differently if I had another chance.

Me overwhelmed by life

Advice I would give to young pups still in school is not to network more, or major in more subjects or do one more edit your resume. My advice would be to not be afraid to do something outside of the norm. Think about what your aspirations were in high school, or even in elementary school, and ask yourself why you are no longer pursuing them. Did you really want to become an accountant when you were 12 years old? Or are you doing it because it is the logical thing to do?

Maybe security and stability is what you are seeking, and that is perfectly okay. But to those of you (like myself) who are craving a sense of adventure, are dying to not work a desk job for the rest of your life and are determined to make a positive impact on this world, I am asking you, “What are you so afraid of?”

This is a question I have been asking myself for months, and am still battling with in the arena. I have had some real “face-down” moments this past year and have been struggling to find peace with this new life, away from my family and friends in a place that doesn’t feel like home.

But maybe this sense of extreme discomfort over the past year has slowly been pushing me toward the purpose I am searching for. If it was easy, I wouldn’t have challenged myself to meet new people, learn about new fields of work, and try new hobbies (like improv and blogging). Most importantly, this discomfort has encouraged me to face my own faults head on.

I am learning to let go and to trust – and let me just tell you, this is the biggest challenge yet. If you know me at all, you know I like to have control over every part of my life. This is simply not realistic and has resulted in a lot of anxiety, stress and confusion.

On my unpaved path to purpose

Bottom Line

Don’t be fooled into believing that everyone has it figured out right now. It is a tricky time in our lives while we try to figure out which trail we want to blaze, why we do what we do, what we want to stand for, and how we want to influence change in the world.

We all do a really god job of hiding how we feel behind the facade of social media and quick catch-ups in passing. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends and family how you really are. You might be surprised to hear how many other people share your feelings.

I hope those who feel like they are the only one struggling realize that they are not alone. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t have a 5 year plan – OWN IT. You are figuring it out, you are changing and you are a fighter.

I am still searching and while the journey is confusing and hard, I am trying to learn how to let go and trust that things will work out. Apparently patience is a virtue, or so they tell me 😉

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2 thoughts on “Rookie Year Reflection: The false assumption that we have it all figured out

  1. Haley. Too be 23 and thinking so deeply about who you are or what you want to do is very natural. You will realize as you age there is a plan for all of us not just the one we can see but one we can’t see. Have faith baby girl. The world is yours for the taking. Love you Aunt Janet. If you ever just want to chat with me don’t hesitate to call. Try to look at life as one day at a time so it doesn’t overwhelm you. Love and miss you Aunt Janet.


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