I Stalled Out This Summer…

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When I was very young, I remember having a variety of aspirations for my career: a teacher, a scientist, a filmmaker, an entrepreneur. In my third grade yearbook I claimed that in 25 years I would be an artist. But nothing really stuck. In eighth grade I specifically remember one day the guidance counselor came in to talk about high school and careers and we were supposed to write down what we wanted to do after college (which was eight years away and honestly pretty unreasonable to ask a thirteen year old) and I could not think of what to write. I stared blankly at the page and I just could not wrap my head around what I wanted to do when I grew up.

Then, in high school I fell in love with art and writing and decided that I wanted to write for a fashion magazine. I would go to New York City and get internships and write and design and that would be that. Without having even visited the city, I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I set my mind to it and wouldn’t let anyone tell me otherwise. I found the perfect college, worked hard in school and applied early action, eventually getting myself into Fordham and moved down to the Bronx. I worked my way through internships and made my way to the Mecca of fashion magazines: Hearst.

But I ended up not loving it the way I had thought. I did not like hiding at my desk and doing tedious editing and formatting and I didn’t feel like I was being creative or challenged. And my plans for my career path dissolved right before my eyes.

That was junior year, and so with a year left of school, I found myself, somehow, at Paramount. And I loved every second of it. I loved researching and preparing for events and actually working them. I loved the challenge of a busy event and the stress that challenged me to focus and succeed. But even then, I couldn’t put my finger on what I wanted to do or what kinds of jobs to apply to. I didn’t even know where I wanted to be anymore.

So after graduation, I went home. I applied and applied to jobs. I even scored a few interviews that really excited me, but I still felt directionless. It showed, too. When potential employers asked me about my five-year plans and dream job I would fumble and stall out. I didn’t know. How could someone give me a job if I didn’t even know what I wanted to do, where I wanted to be?

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After about a month at home and a series of rejections and just general frustration, I sat down with my dad and he talked to me about his unconventional path to where he ended up. He told me that it would be hard and I would have to do my best to get where I wanted to be and offered me the advice to do something each day to get to my dream job.

And again, I fumbled. I couldn’t tell him what my dream job was. I could say what jobs I liked and which ones I didn’t but I couldn’t pin down my dream job.

I knew what kind of work I wanted to do and what type of company I thought I would love to work for, and I tracked down someone in that exact position and spent a good amount of time emailing her. Her help was invaluable. She looked over my resume and my blog and offered suggestions as well as her story and thoughtful answers to each and every question I asked. And then she offered me a plan of action, a path to a job that I considered desirable. She pointed me in the right direction and helped me find a vision for my dream job and outlined the steps I would need to take to get there.

For months, years even, I felt so confused and lost. It was like I was blindfolded and spinning in front of a piñata, just swinging a bat blindly trying to hit something, anything. After that email exchange, I felt like the spinning had stopped and I was back on my track to my dream job. I finally had the answer to questions about my dream job and my five year plan. I finally know what jobs to apply to and where I wanted to end up.

What I’m extremely good at is persistence and having a one-track mind to get myself to where I want to be. When I was in high school and I knew what I wanted I stopped at nothing to get it. And I got it. But since I had been so lost it was harder for me to get what I wanted, since I didn’t even know what I wanted.

Using that drive, I reworked my resume and cover letters and sent out application after application. I applied to jobs, I made informational interview appointments and volunteered for different jobs that wouldn’t hire me. I unerwent a lot of anxiety and frustration, especially while I was watching all of my close friends score jobs while I felt like I was still floundering. One Friday at work, I reached the peak of my anxiety and broke down. I left work and hyperventilated the whole ride home. I sobbed for a few hours, feeling desperate and like a failure. It was extremely overdramatic.

The melodrama was only accentuated when that same afternoon, I got a call for a job with Penguin Books in New York. They wanted me to come down and interview. And so I went. I drove down on Labor Day, interviewed that Tuesday and left that night. I was overwhelmed, but I was excited. The position was perfect and the job just felt right. About a week later, they called back and scheduled a phone interview. The interviews in New York lasted almost two hours, so I was shocked when the phone interview only lasted a few minutes. Regardless, I tried extremely hard to remain positive while not getting my hopes up.

This week, Penguin called to offer me a position as a Publicity Assistant and I accepted. In two weeks, I will drive down to New York City and start my dream job. This summer has been one hell of a whirwind and I struggled. I was miserable, but I stuck to it and finally got exactly what I wanted.

At the start of the summer, after one particularly emotional dinner with my mom, she told me that maybe I’m stalling out this summer because there are lessons that the universe wants me to learn, and that I can’t continue with my life until I learn them. At the time I ignored her and continued throwing myself an unemployed pity party, but now, looking back she was right (isn’t she always?). I needed this summer to grow up and find myself and create a new vision. I wasn’t ready when I graduated. But I am now. I’m ready to get out there and be the fully-formed Kelsey I’ve always known I can be.

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