A question I’ve asked myself a hundred times over the course of my life, but mostly in the past year. Everything seemed so cut-and-dry: graduate college, go to grad school, go to some post-doc position, work for a university and do my own research. Seems easy enough, right? Especially if I worked hard, put in the time, and prayed really hard. Unfortunately that isn’t how things worked out.
I did everything right – I made connections at schools I hoped to go to for my PhD, I spent a whole summer studying for the GRE and scrutinizing potential schools, I had maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout my time at my small university. I applied to four potential grad schools across the Eastern U.S., and I got an interview at one. I was so excited, it was my top pick. I went to the interview weekend, they set me up in a fancy hotel, paid for my meals, accommodated my vegan dietary needs, and gave me a cool free t-shirt.
But it didn’t work out. I was left in February unselected with no idea what I would – or could – do next. Where could I go from there? It seemed hopeless, and I would have fallen into a mini-depression if I hadn’t had so many other things to distract me: two jobs, 25 hours of classes, internship, research, thesis, VP of my sorority, and costume coordinator for a musical show my university forced the social clubs to participate in. My close friends and boyfriend constantly told me it was too much, but I needed all of those duties to distract me from the fact that I didn’t know what I could do next. I had no meaning outside of school.
So I graduated and moved in with a close friend for a month to help her prepare for her wedding at the end of May and I job-searched. After applying to what felt like hundreds of jobs, I found one that wanted me back, and I got it. I moved back home and found an inkling of meaning, lost a little of my “Where do I go from here?”, and started my job as a veterinary technician in Tennessee. I’m glad to be home, but I’m still wondering: now where do I go from here? I crave meaning in my life, but I know that all isn’t futile. I work 40 hours per week at the vet clinic, but I still need more. That’s why I’m writing this. I need more meaning in my life. It’s rough to not be able to follow some path that you’ve set up in your mind, but sometimes you need a wake-up call, and you need to realize that nothing comes as easy as you would’ve hoped. That’s the lesson I’m learning now. Life is hard, and to do what you want to do requires a whole heck of a lot of effort. But you can get there. You can certainly do what you want to do. Your desires are never futile. Keep working, and you’ll get there – if you want it bad enough.