It may not be the final chapter for this series, but it is the final chapter for me in my undergrad studies at Boise State, which means I am leaving Student Life and two other writing jobs as well. This leaves me suddenly with a lot of free time, questions about the future, and a little bit of fear for what’s to come.
But before we go forward, I want to go back. As I mentioned in another article, I am not necessarily what people think of when they imagine the traditional student. I’m 32 now and about to finish my first Bachelor’s degree. My life took unexpected turns and I went through hurdles that ultimately told me that more schooling was right for me.
Right out of high school I saw myself as that person who wouldn’t get a degree, but they’d find a stable job and they’d do fine for themselves and be happy enough in their life. And I was. I don’t want to give off the impression that I was miserable, well not at least until I figured out some things about myself.
I worked in customer service for an Idaho-based company for about five years after I graduated high school. I met people I am still friends with to this day, I loved the company, and I felt like I was making a difference…for a while.
While I was at this job, I realized something major about myself—I am not the type of person who is easily satisfied. Some might call that high maintenance and I’m totally okay with that because it’s what got me where I am today. But anyway, I found myself working customer service, liking my job, but wanting something more. So, I tried to get into a management position.
I worked hard to prove that I was leadership material. I had multiple interviews for different management positions in my department but was consistently turned down. And now, looking back on it, I can totally see why—because I wasn’t ever really settled in my position there. I was visibly missing something and tried to fill that need with more responsibility instead of looking more closely at myself.
Eventually, I did land myself a bit of a promotion as a floor leader, but it still felt like a half step in the right direction and I wasn’t happy with that. So, after giving it some time (about five years) and steadily becoming less fulfilled by my work, the hole of wanting was growing more and more inside me each day. So, what did I do? I quit.
Now, I do not suggest anyone just up and quit their job, but it happened to me because I ignored the signs in myself—or rather, I noticed the signs in myself, but expected that one day I would hopefully suddenly become happy just because of a title change—until the pressure and idea of living a life of unfulfillment just got to be so much that I couldn’t take it one more day.
It took me a couple of months to find another job after that. And I was really scared that I had made the wrong decision, but the temporary release of the pressure that I felt was enough to keep me going. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I kept on truckin’, as they say.
A couple of months later, after I still hadn’t found a job, my best friend said that her current boyfriend was working a job he liked. He was working for a marketing company where he got to, “just write all day.” He asked me if I liked writing and could see myself writing a short article every day and I thought that sounded pretty easy, to be totally honest.
I remembered throughout middle school and high school that writing and English came to me pretty easily. It was one of the only subjects I actually enjoyed showing up for. I loved reading books, I loved writing poems, but it truly never occurred to me that I could be paid to write some silly articles for a living.
So, I turned in my resume and a writing sample and was called in for an interview. I got the job and ended up working there for over three years. I found that I still loved writing. In fact, I loved it more than I remembered. So, I worked at getting better at it every day. I built up a portfolio of work during that time that I was really proud of, but after years of trying to teach myself how to be a better writer, I knew that I actually needed a professional to step in and show me how it’s done.
Can you guess what happened then? I went back to school part-time. And then when I didn’t feel like I was putting in the full effort I wanted into school because my job was getting in the way, I quit my job and went back to school full-time. I never looked back. And here we are today, four years later and I’m about to finally see my name on that piece of paper and know that I did the right thing.
Not everyone’s path looks the same. It’s not always an easy decision to change jobs, go back to school, decide on a major, or find a career after you graduate. Sometimes it might feel like your timeline is scrambled. You might feel like the right things aren’t happening for you at the right time, but I promise you that they are.
Did it take me until I was 26 to understand that I had a serious passion for writing? Yes. Did it take me another two years and change to decide to go back to school for it? Also, yes. And then, after making that decision, did it take me four whole years to study for said passion only to graduate at the age of 32? Definitely. And I am so happy that I did it.
Never again will I question myself if I’m unhappy. I won’t doubt the power of my influence over my life. Because although it took me longer than the average person, I know now what I can do with this degree, which is use it to incorporate my personal passions for creativity into my career. And that is truly a spectacular gift that higher education has given me.
I also learned that I am resilient. I survived quitting a good job. I survived quitting a second good job. I survived working part-time at a coffee shop making very little money just to see where this took me.
Although it was terrifying and difficult, where it took me was really somewhere great. The personal journey I’ve been on over the last four years is priceless. I wouldn’t trade one minute of my college struggle for anything because through that difficulty I broke through my own personal barriers I’d been putting up for myself. I learned that I don’t have to work a job that I don’t want to. I deserve to live a fulfilling and satisfying life. And I am so much stronger than I give myself credit for.
I now know that I can’t live without creativity in my life and in my work. And because I listened to that little voice in my head that told me I want more, I’ll never again have to.
Now, I’m again at the edge of something scary and unknown. I don’t know if I’ll find a job right away. I’m scared to close this chapter on a great opportunity in my studies and the jobs I’ve been doing over the last couple of years, but I know that it will be okay. I breathe easy today because I know that I put in the effort over the last four years so that something will come to me when it’s meant to.
Congratulations class of spring 2021! We did it!
By Trisha Kangas
P.S. If you missed the earlier articles in this series, you can read all of the Finding Inspiration articles here.