My life has always been a series of plans. Get into a good college, graduate from high school, land specific internships and other resume-building opportunities, and have a job lined up before I graduate from college so I wouldn’t be one of those young adults with a degree and no job prospects. So I was getting ready to graduate from college and preparing to meet the next plan in life: getting a job.
From the moment I started college, my plan had always been to land my dream job: a highly sought-after, coveted fellowship at the state capitol. It all initially went as planned as I received the highly-anticipated email that I moved forward in the application process and would get the opportunity to interview for the fellowship at the capitol. But fast forward nearly a month later, and the next set of emails made my heart drop: I wasn’t chosen. Granted, I was put on the alternate list in the event should anyone that was accepted drop out, but my chances of that were slim. In an instant, I felt everything that I worked towards, and worked so hard for, slip away and dissolve into nothing. I felt lost, empty, and even worse, like a failure. My life up until this point had completely gone to plan, but life took the ultimate unexpected turn, and I was so lost.
On the day of graduation, I joined the group of students who graduated that day with no job ahead of them. While I was smiling on the outside and enjoying the day with my family and closest friends, I couldn’t help but still feel like a failure.
Fast forward to a few weeks after my graduation, I figured that it was time to settle down and begin the job searching process. I sent nearly a dozen applications out with a smile, sure that with my experience and qualifications, I would land a job easily. But then it began….
Within a few weeks, I was already rejected. According to the hiring officer, the position, which would still have put me in my dream location, the state capitol, received quite a few applicants, and I, unfortunately, did not move forward to the interview process. The next day, I found out I would not be receiving an interview for another position — this one for a position in the office of a state legislator — because they were strictly interviewing local applicants. Then, to add salt to an already deep wound, I was turned down for a paid position in a legislator’s office, and was told that I could try for an internship.
I was on the brink of breaking down. I was beginning to feel defeated, and that I wasn’t good enough. I was beginning to question my degree and the career path that I chose for myself. If these people don’t think I’m good enough for it, then maybe I’m not…
As I was fighting back the tears and trying to stop my heart from breaking into a million pieces, I stopped to think back to what my kind neighbor told me when I went over to say thank you for the generous graduation gift she gave to me. When she asked me about my job prospects, I told her that I was looking and hadn’t really heard back from anyone at the time. She told me that it took her daughter a few years after getting her degree to really get where she wanted to be. “Don’t settle,” she told me. “It might not work out right away, but you will get to where you need to be. You will get the job you want. Just don’t give up. It’ll happen.”
I gathered myself, and thought ‘she’s right’. Perhaps it’ll just take some time. I’m just so used to everything falling into place, and just because it isn’t, doesn’t mean that I’ve failed. It just means that maybe the right opportunity isn’t there yet, but when I stumble upon it, that’s when everything will fall into place.
Life doesn’t always go as planned, and that’s okay. If everything went as we expected, would we really be living, or at least enjoying life? Life, after all, may be more thrilling and beautiful if things don’t always go as we planned it. It forces us to slow down and smell the roses, if you will; it makes us reflect, appreciate what we have, and work towards what we want. Just because something isn’t happening for us right now, doesn’t mean it’ll never happen. It’s merely life making a plot twist, not ending the story.