This is a rather poignant return to the pen for me after the year I've had. I've faced challenge after challenge this year and I feel for the most part that I've come out on top.
Very early in the year I made the decision to leave college because I realized that I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life, and that I was only really in college because it's what I was supposed to do after high school. It didn't matter that I hadn't gotten into any school but my safety, or that as fickle 18-year-old I had no idea what I wanted to be, I was the smart, funny successful one and I had to go to college. I had been debating leaving for months, but I loved my school and the programs I was a part of... I couldn't imagine my life without Alternative Spring Break, or making sure my class had the most amazing senior year possible (I was class president for christ sake!) much less leaving my classes. Conservation biology was something I believe really deeply in, but in order to succeed as a scientist you have to accept that you need a Ph.D. first, and I wasn't ready to put my life on hold for that. So I drove home, told my parents I was leaving school, drove back up to school the following morning and basically packed up my room in the middle of the night without saying goodbye to anyone.
Was it the best way of doing things? Probably not, but I knew no one would really understand my reasoning. "Everyone needs a degree" they would insist, but to be quite frank I think that's a load of bullshit. Our education system is broken in ways far too complex to try to hash out in this post, but I think it's more important to figure out what you're good at and what gets you out of bed in the morning before spending thousands of dollars on a piece of paper.
So I withdrew from college and got married to my dear husband. This is probably the least challenging thing that happened this year. We'd already survived a lot of the fights & lived with his parents for nearly 2 months while waiting to buy a house so he has been my port in the storm that has been this year & for that I am eternally thankful.
Thus began my attempt to find a job to help pay my suddenly very grown up bills. I had always been interested in real estate, so it was my natural first choice and to my great surprise I heard from a brokerage the same day I applied for the job. That should have been my first warning sign that all was not as it seemed.
I wasn't pulled into a scam, but we'll just say that no one was terribly forthcoming about how hard it is to get started and that it's insane to try and become a real estate agent so young when you have so few reliable connections. I lost a lot of money and it started to affect my marriage. I tried everything to succeed but nothing really worked, not the marketing, or the networking, or the mentoring classes. Even taking on a second job couldn't lift the burden that my supposed dream career was putting on our lives. So by the end of September I left my career to keep my life from crumbling around me & it tortured me.
I think as a 20-something I'm expected to think only in the here and now, and follow my zen, and do all that other new age crap that will turn you homeless unless you live in a sitcom-world where the bank of mom-and-dad never cuts you off. So leaving real estate was a much harder decision than it ever should have been. Of course you should leave this money pit of a job with no real prospects for the immediate future in order to save your marriage and pay the bills. That's the definition of the logical thing to do, but it took me realizing that I legitimately couldn't pay next month's bills to realize that something had to give.
So I guess the moral of this very long-winded post is that it's okay to make the decision that is better in the long run, even if it hurts now. Sure your friends won't understand, but they don't always have to. You're the only person who knows what is best for you in the end, and you're allowed to make the final call.