Since graduating from college nearly a decade ago (holy hell), my career trajectory has been anything but expected or planned. I’ve been very fortunate in being able to continually move up the ladder despite some setbacks, and one can say that fortune comes with tenacity, grit, and the irony of lack of belief in oneself to forge ahead without any sense of entitlement getting in the way.
At 30, I look at the last ten years of my career and think, wow, there’s a true story there, one which wasn’t at all expected. There’s logic to the journey – basically, despite initially enrolling in school for theatrical design I quickly found my talent for the written word far surpassed my ability to sew in a straight line. Four rough years of college later, in a bit of a clinical depression funk, I realized that I was not meant to do entry-level work. My bosses realized that as well, and at first, not in the happy smiley everything worked out sort of way. But as I got my footing I also managed to have this crazy career in marketing. I found out that many college graduates, even those who could whip up fancy spreadsheets like no one’s business, had no idea how to write a damn sentence that someone else would want to read. My writing became my M.O.
If you’ve read this blog over the years, you probably roll your eyes every other post. For someone who is doing so “well” in her life I sure am dramatic and whiny. I guess right now I feel as if I’m on a precipice between this life I created for myself and the life that would actually make me happy. The gap is so wide because it was safer to do what was easiest, and to me that was using my creativity to be really good a small aspect of my current role so that enough people were convinced that I was good at the rest of it.
The problem is the majority of my career is about being a machine. Some people thrive on being a machine and being really good at it. That’s not what I do. I’m the anti-machine. I’m not super creative but I look at improving things based on qualitative evidence more than data. That doesn’t fly in Silicon Valley despite the admiration for people like Steve Jobs. It takes a mind that thinks different to revolutionize and drastically improve an industry or product and yet that’s not what people want. If you want to think different you have to not be afraid of doing your own thing. You have to not chase after money or stability but instead, at least at first, just create and if you do it well enough, maybe the rest will come.