Graduation Fears

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on January 28, 2011


Earlier this week, I met with two inspiring women who work at my undergraduate university- the University of Guelph. They came across my blog and bakery and were interested in hearing my story and telling me about a project they are currently working on. We chatted a lot about making the career transition after graduation and finding something you enjoy. If you have read my ‘A Year Can Change A Lot’ series, you know that the topic of career enjoyment is a huge passion of mine, so I was quite excited to share my ideas and hear what they had to say.

One of the issues we discussed is that so many graduates and students are unsure what career will make them happy. I used to be one of them. I remember struggling with what I wanted to do and I felt like if I made the wrong decision my entire life would be ruined. Thankfully, that was not true, although there were some difficult times.

I personally feel that the system did not work for me. I was just 18 when I started university and I really had no idea what I wanted to do, let alone what career would make me happy. I felt so much pressure not to screw it all up. I’m all for planning and aspiring to achieve great things, but sometimes I feel like these decisions are rushed and just thrown at us when we are young. Looking back I wished that I had taken a year in between my highschool and undergrad degrees to figure things out and give myself more time. But all my other friends were going to university too, and I didn’t want to be left behind.

Then comes graduation, which is a happy time, however it can also be a time of great unease. I was excited to get my Master’s degree, but no one told me about the loss of identity that came with it. My student identity that I carried with me for almost my entire life was now over, at least in the physical sense. After graduating, I was just supposed to magically have a successful career. This made me anxious.

I would always look at my friends and think they were so lucky because they seemed to be able to find the perfect job almost instantly. The truth is, many students and graduates do struggle, but not many people talk about it. I realize this now because I have received countless emails from readers who have shared their own stories with me. I was blown away by how many of you have struggled with the same things that I did.

The job market is tough. Competition is stiff. Student loans add to the stress and there seems to be an expectation to immediately find our Dream Job after graduation. I was so scared about not being able to find a job with an undergraduate degree in Psychology, I made it my mission to get into grad school. I worked my butt off to be sure that I would have a competitive application to the grad schools I wanted to go to. When I did get accepted into one of my schools of choice I was thrilled, but there was a tiny voice inside of me that said, ‘This might not be the right fit for you…’

I ignored the voice because I told myself I had no other option. While I wasn’t able to research the area that I was passionate about, I just figured I would learn to love it somehow.

During this time, I never really stopped to think about what I really wanted, only that I was now on my way to a bigger paycheck at the end. Lower down on my list was job satisfaction.  I grew up with the idea that you never truly love your day job- you just pay the bills and put your time in and you try to enjoy your weekends. I also watched for many years as my parents struggled with finding happiness in their own careers. Even though my parents always, always, always encouraged me to do what made me happy, the thought of actually doing this was a foreign concept to me. I often swept these thoughts under the rug while taking graduate exams, working to pay the bills, and writing a thesis. Life was busy and I just went through the motions of what I thought I was supposed to do.

I never thought that I could do something entirely different than what I went to school for, but that is exactly what I ended up doing. What we do with our lives does not have to be decided when we are 17 or 19 or even when we are 50. Just because we have a degree in the sciences does not mean that one day we can’t open up our own art studio. We also shouldn’t have to stick with the same career our entire lives.

So you are now 48 and you want to go back to school and become a Registered Dietitian? I say all the power to you. I used to have a lady in one of my courses who was over 75 years old and she was such an inspiration to me because she knew that Life should be a life long learning experience.

I guess we shouldn’t lose our student identity after all.

I didn’t know what would make me happy until I tried it out. Often, what we learn from a textbook and what we learn in the real world are often completely different experiences.

I believe:

You are not a failure for not knowing what you want to do with your life.

You are not a failure for changing your mind. Once, or twice, or eighteen times.

You are not a failure for getting your PhD and deciding that this is not what you want in life (I get these emails all the time).

You are not a failure for not yet finding your ‘dream job’.

You are not a failure. Period.

Here are some success quotes that I enjoy:

I couldn’t wait for success, so I went ahead without it.
~Jonathan Winters

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.
~Bill Cosby

I honestly think it is better to be a failure at something you love than to be a success at something you hate.
~George Burns

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.
~Michael Jordan

I’d love your thoughts on some of these questions- Did you (or do you) struggle with choosing what to study in school? Do you feel pressure to figure out what it is you want to do for a career or finding a way to make it a reality? Did you grow up with parents who were happy with their careers? Have you ever made a career change?


PS- For my ‘A Year Can Change A Lot’ series, see these posts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10 (1 year later)

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{ 210 comments… read them below or add one }

veganteen11 January 28, 2011 at 6:49 pm

I’m 18.. and ending my senior year of high school. Almost everyone i encounter asks me what i am going to study in college.. like you said, HOW do we know this, when we/I are 18!!?!?! that’s crazy!!
I can’t decide.. i can’t even narrow it down to 5 subject areas. I believe that when the time is right to figure it out, i will. My parents pressure me to figure it out, but i have no idea. Of course, they both knew their perfect profession by a very young age.

All i can do now is hope to figure out what i want to do, finish high school, and make TONS of vegan food :)


Sara @ Baking and Wine January 28, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Oh man. This is something that troubles me daily. I graduated in 2007 with a BA in English. I still have not used this degree, and I honestly don’t think I ever will. I definitely feel like a failure a lot of the time. Especially right now, being unemployed, it’s tough. I’m lucky now that I have a husband who completely supports any decision I make, but it is still hard.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:29 am

You are not a failure Sara…the fact that you were able to get your degree is a huge achievement in itself. :)
Also, I bet you are ‘using’ your English degree every day. ;) The right thing will come along for you.


Sara @ Baking and Wine January 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm

Absolutely. It’s all about positive thinking, right? :) Right now I’m using that positive thinking to grow a little bun in my oven and the career worries have been put on hold anyway. Luckily, like I said, my husband is awesome and we have been talking about opening our own business in a few years when he gets out of the military.


Courtney. January 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm

Don’t let your parents pressure you to figure it out….you will eventually


LindzGreerIndy January 28, 2011 at 6:53 pm

This post is what I needed right now. I’m about 2 years from graduating, and I’m already freaking out about the job market!! You always have the words I need to read for whatever I’m dealing with. Thank you for being such an inspiration!!


Emma (Sweet Tooth Runner) January 28, 2011 at 6:54 pm

YES I’m struggling with this at the moment! I don’t know whether I should follow what I really love and my passions or be sensible and get a job with more financial and job security! Argh so hard! :(

But those quotes are amazing and so inspirational! Thanks for this post- just what I needed :)


Katy (The Singing Runner) January 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

I am in a situation like this right now. I am a junior (technically a senior credit wise) musical theatre major at my university. Since I started blogging in October, I realized that my passion does not lie with theatre like it used to. I have such a passion for healthy living, running, exercise, and food. I know in my heart that I am meant to do something else. So I plan to go get my Master’s in Public Health with a specialization in Nutrition/ Dietetics so that I can become an RD and be an advocate for healthy initiative programs in schools and businesses. It is a huge switch for me, and I would switch undergraduate majors, but I am only 13 credits shy from my bachelor’s. So I am taking the necessary pre-reqs I need for grad school on top of the credits I am taking for my music degree. I will never regret my music degree, but I know that other things lie ahead of me in the future, and I can not wait! :D


Nikki January 28, 2011 at 6:55 pm

Hey Angela,
Great post! I have to chose what I want to study in a year, and I really have no idea! There are some studies that I like, but I haven’t found any that I really love. At first I was thinking of phisics, but now I don’t think I’m smart enough for that. And I scared that if I do chose it, I have to stop because it’s too hard for me.
But yeah I think a lot of people have this kind of struggles.
Thanks for your great posts everytime! One thing though, I subscribed with my email, but I only got one mail. And now there are 2 new posts but I haven’t got an email yet.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:58 pm

Hmm that is weird about the email…maybe it is delayed? Drop me a line if you don’t get any in another day and I will look into it. :)


Nikki January 29, 2011 at 7:20 am

I got them today! So yeah it probably was delayed, hopefully the next emails will come sooner =)


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:04 am

ok great thanks for following up!


Katie January 28, 2011 at 6:57 pm

I am getting my PhD in Biology right now. I have just a few more months. I have wavered between being 100% sure this is what I want and 100% sure this isn’t what I want. What has kept me going is the realization that when I finish I will have accomplished something HUGE, and that even if I never use it, that doesn’t take away from that accomplishment. And that if I kept going, I’d at least have that option. I’m all about options and not backing myself into a corner. Just getting a degree doesn’t limit you. It opens doors.


Jen January 29, 2011 at 8:06 am

I so needed to hear this right now, Katie. I’m in a similar boat, and I have to constantly remind myself, as you say, that just finishing the PhD is a huge accomplishment in and of itself — and I think if I stopped now, I’d always regret not finishing, even if I never use it, ya know?


Amy @ Teach, Write, Cook January 30, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I needed that, too. I am about a year away from being finished with a Ph.D. and unsure whether I really want a job in academia when I’m done. I’m trying to remember exactly what you said that finishing is in and of itself an accomplishment. I’ve given myself permission to do pursue whatever career I want — which might mean an academic job, or it might mean something totally unrelated to my degree — but only if I finish my Ph.D. first. That has been *much* better motivation to work on my dissertation than wavering back and forth about academia.


Alayna @ Thyme Bombe January 28, 2011 at 7:00 pm

My favorite quote, an old Chinese proverb, applies to this well: “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best time is now.” It is never to late to get exactly what you want out of life!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:55 pm

Gosh I love that quote!


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) January 28, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Angela this post is amazing!
I have tons of education and credentials: undergrad and grad work in psychology.
I am a certified yoga instructor at the highest recognized level, RYT 500 thru Yoga Alliance
I have my real estate license
I am a certified lactation educator
i am a mother (and yes, this is the greatest teacher of all!)
I model and the jobs I work in do not really “use” my education per se. But life is not about JUST getting a degree and then using just that.

Life is a journey. There is learning everywhere. I struggle with having all this education and sometimes feel like im not using it. But i dont want to use it :) I like my life now. And til I don’t like it, I will just keep on rolling with life’s crazy ebbs and flows!


Cate January 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm

I spent most of college convinced I was going to be a doctor or an epidemiologist. Then, during a public health internship in Uganda, I realized I would be happiest as a teacher. So I came home, got my teaching credential, and now absolutely LOVE my job teaching 8th grade science and PE. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else. It’s a challenge and I adore my students.


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day January 28, 2011 at 7:10 pm

I just spent the last two years of my life in graduate school and my little voice said the same thing: you are pretending to like this degree. I was. I was going through the emotions, when secretly, I was rolling my eyes in my class discussions and not taking my internships seriously. I finally realized one day that my internships were the key: I hated getting up every morning and going to them. I was a school counselor. Shouldn’t I love this type of work? I wanted to help people, right? Well, I should have helped myself first. When my internships ended I was relieved. And then I knew it wasn’t the career for me. That moment of clarity was the best feeling of all, admitting to myself that while I didn’t know what I wanted, I definitely knew what I didn’t want.

Thanks again for the amazing post Angela. While I was going to through those deciding times, I was reading your blog, especially A Year Can Change A Lot Series, and it gave me the motivation to finally make a decision.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Wow I had so many lightbulb moments reading your comment! Very insightful. Thanks for sharing. :) I love this, ‘That moment of clarity was the best feeling of all, admitting to myself that while I didn’t know what I wanted, I definitely knew what I didn’t want. ‘ Brilliant.


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day January 29, 2011 at 4:12 pm

Even writing my comment gave me the chills as I reflected back on my prior decisions. So glad to be happy and confident in my decision making now :)


Baking 'n' Books January 29, 2011 at 4:06 pm

What did you end up doing instead? And did you find it difficult to pay off loans with making a change?


Maria @ Oh Healthy Day January 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I’m now an Office Manager for an estate management company. I plan all kinds of parties and events, do some IT work and coordinate meetings. I’m in the process of transferring to an HR position, where I’ll do hiring, benefit administration, and conflict resolution. My degree will actually be used after all, but in a different way that makes me much happier.


Lauren January 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

Awesome post! I transferred schools and switched majors last year after being halfway through nursing school. It was a big change, and I had a lot of people tell me to just finish my nursing degree, then do what I want. I was scared at first, but I am so glad that I made the change, and I’m still going to be able to graduate on time.


Amanda (Eating Up) January 28, 2011 at 7:13 pm

This hits right at home for me. I’m graduating in six weeks and am having to field questions about my plans every single day. And I don’t have an answer! I’m okay with that, but I’m in an environment where people put a lot of pressure on themselves and have very high expectations about what the right path after college is. I have to ignore the looks or snide remarks when I don’t give them an answer they’re impressed with.


Ilana January 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm

I’ve always been terrified of choosing the wrong thing for my life, so I’ve never been satisfied to settle if I dislike where I’m going. I went to a high school that specialized in performing arts and I was a star pupil – I was basically poised to become a professional opera singer. When I got to college and began studying music on a college level, I realized I hated the whole thing. I’d chosen a college for its music program, I was miserable and incredibly depressed, but mostly terrified of letting everyone down – my teachers, my parents, my peers, myself. After all, wasn’t it my dream to be an opera singer? I gave up on the program, declaring English lit as my major instead. I was much happier in an intellectual field and eventually discovered a second major studying Middle Eastern affairs, but when it came time for me to graduate, I had no idea what I would do with my life, so I kind of fell into that slump again. Over the past year or so I’ve been slowly rediscovering passions in my life. I’m halfway towards being a fully certified Pilates instructor, I’m teaching part time, and on Tuesday I start school all over again. I’m going back to get a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and Exercise, after which I am either going to get my Master’s in nutrition, or pursue a PT cert. Dunno which yet…It just feels like the right track this time, something I can really see myself being satisfied with. Today on the phone, my mother told me she really respects how I’ve never been afraid of starting over.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I love your story :) Thanks for sharing


Emily January 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm

Angela, thank you so much for this post. I think one of the main reasons why I love you blog (aside from the incredible recipes and awesome photography) is that I relate to your career path so much. I am in a psychology graduate program, too (counseling psych) and there are day that I feel like I really rushed into this program way too fast. I graduate in the middle of the U.S.’s stock market crisis and there was no other option for a psych undergrad really than to keep on getting your degree (or so I thought). I am half-way done my three year program and the course work is getting emotionally heavy and I feel challenged not only to decide what I want to do with the degree but also to discover every bit about who I am and to get through all of my emotional struggles to be a perfect counselor. In my family, my parents and brother are all in working-class jobs that did not require a college degree. They have always been extremely proud of me but never pushed me to do anything I didn’t want to, I am definitely the person who has put expectations on myself. My parents are content with their careers and lives but I’m not sure if their work is their true passion in life. I think they have each found ways to make sure that they do what they love with the means provided to them from their job. I believe I will finish my degree program but I think that I will take some time to do some soul-searching after to see how I will make this degree work for what I want to do in my life. I think that there was some big reason for why I chose to do this work but I don’t know if it’s a “perfect straight and narrow” path.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:52 pm

I can relate to what you said a lot…especially ‘I am definitely the person who has put expectations on myself.’ I was always the one who put the expectations on myself too. It was only when I started questioning those expectations and how I defined success did I realize that many of the expectations I placed on myself were unfounded.
I also think you can use your degree in many unconventional ways too. I never say my psych degrees are a waste. I feel like I am able to help others doing what I am doing now, even if it is not in the traditional format of counselor-patient or researcher role.


Kristin January 28, 2011 at 7:20 pm

I graduated in May with a journalism degree but haven’t really pursued finding work in my area of study. A number of factors seem to hold me back, namely fear. Lately I’ve been wrestling with the notion that I’m “settling” and have come to realize that I am lacking joy in my current job situation. This post was so encouraging to me. I desperately needed a reminder that I am not a failure for not knowing what to do with my life and not finding my dream job yet. Thank you!


Katie January 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Loved the post. I’m finishing up a 2-year career change process (teaching math to accounting) and it’s been a huge struggle financially and emotionally. It’s difficult to give up your ‘young professional’ identity for a ‘student and pt sandwich shop worker’ identity, especially when you see old coworkers, parents, students on a regular basis. But I’ve realized I should be proud to have had the strength to make a change when I knew I wasn’t happy, and almost everyone – well, everyone who cares about me, anyway! ;) – has understood and supported me. Glad you were able to find something that makes you happy too!


Karla January 28, 2011 at 7:25 pm

You have no idea how timely this post is. I’m graduating from grad school in May, and I literally have no idea what I want to do. I feel like people are disappointed when I say I don’t know what I want to do or where I want to live and that’s really disheartening.
I’m trying hard to remember that having a Master’s degree doesn’t mean I have to work in that field. Education can only help, not hurt.
Thanks for this post!


grace b January 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Oh man I hear you on this Karla! i’m a second semester senior too. I can’t wait to graduate and at the same time everything is so unknown for me right now. There are so many different things out there and I want to experience everything–how will I choose one thing and be okay with it?

Also the questioning that you get from adults on an almost daily basis (yesterday it was my piano teacher!) is really draining and frustrating.

Checking out your blog girl, glad to know we are all in this together!

Thanks for such a strong post Angela, I love the quotes!


Jessica January 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Wow, Angela, this really hit home for me. I am 23 years old and just started Graduate School this month (I graduated from undergrad in December) and I am going through the doubting motions where I think that this is not where I should be because it’s too hard or I’m not good enough compared to the other people in my classes. In reality, it’s not hard (well, it’s challenging but doable with effort) and I got there the same way these people did so why shouldn’t I be as good as them? I’m not worried that this isn’t where I should be… I changed my major a bunch of times in undergrad which is why it took me from Fall 2005-Fall 2010 to get my B.S. (elementary education, BTW), it’s just hard sometimes when those self-doubt and negativity demons come creeping up making you think you’re a failure. Thank you so much for writing your beliefs and those quotes… I read your blog every day, but this was definitely a right post, right place, right time kind of situation for me :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm

In psychology we called that the ‘imposter syndrome’- feeling like you secretly should not be there with your peers and that one day, others will figure out you arent as smart. Myself and some of my friends went through this in grad school and it was really tough. But just be comforted in knowing that most people feel that way too. :)


Amy @ Teach, Write, Cook January 30, 2011 at 7:17 pm

This really hits home for me, too. I have realized from talking to lots of other people that almost every graduate student goes through “imposter syndrome” at some point in their education (and sometimes all throughout it). Something that’s really been helpful is talking about it to other people, because it’s made me realize that even people who seem like they have everything together often feel like “imposters.”

It also strikes me that this is why I really love blogs (like OSG!) where people talk about their failures along with their successes, because it makes me realize that even the most prolific, poised, and put-together blogger has her bad days, too.


Bronwyn Coyne January 29, 2011 at 12:37 pm

I go through this feeling at least once a week in my program! Totally feeling the “impostor syndrome”.


Jacquelyn January 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I completely agree with you!
My mom was a stay-at-home mom until I was about 11 when she decided to go back to school. She was in her late thirties getting her bachelor of education degree and she mentioned to me that some students commented on her age. I’m so proud of her I think her choices were really inspiring and I know she loves her career.
I’m in university right now and I love seeing other older students and second career students!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:32 pm

wow kudos to your mom!


Baking 'n' Books January 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I am bawling right now. God – to have that passion and to have found what you want to do…I hate my job; but I have 2 degrees and student loans that amount to over $100k…what choice do I have?

I’m scared to death…scared to death because everyday, everyday, I feel like quitting, I can’t take it – I feel so “outside” of who I am and what I want to do, it’s killing me. Literally, the stress, the fatigue, the fighting with what I have to do and what I want to do…

But it’s not a matter of choice for me. I can’t quit and do something else – just like that. And this has been going on for 3 years now at least. I’m only 30, but feel like I’m 50. My life is just a series of wishes and dreams.

I feel ridiculous, ridiculous and selfish for even saying any of these things. I am grateful for what I have, but still struggle just to pay my bills – with no end in sight.

Sometimes, I wonder if all this – if this is all there is? And if so, is it worth it…


Sam January 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I could have wrote this, every word of it.


Baking 'n' Books January 28, 2011 at 7:40 pm

Oh…it’s suffocating isn’t it…I just don’t…well, there really are no words to describe it anymore – I’ve vented and complained. But I try! I do…it’s not like I expect something to fall into my lap – God no! But things don’t just happen. Reality exists and the reality is that I have to pay huge bills every month. So I suck it up and do it and desperately search for some sort of peace in my future – because I truly don’t know if I can do this much longer…


Sam January 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

I know what you mean. I think everyday is this all that life has to offer? This is what they ingrain for us to do from when we are little. This is awful. I don’t expect anything to fall into my lap either. It’s also scary for me because I don’t have any hidden talents or whatever: I can’t cook, bake, blog, craft or write. I’m not waiting to be discovered because there is nothing to discover about me. I suck it up everyday and try to smile and be grateful that i have a job because well, that’s what the tell me to do………………


Sam January 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Wow you just spoke the unspoke word. How’s a person going to spend 18 years on their education and then not be happy? Society has so many comments about this type of person and I have tried not to be that person. I’m miserable at my job though and I don’t think I chose the right career path; however, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. I don’t think I ever knew–I just went through the motions because I wanted to make my parent’s proud–the first person to go to college in my family and the 1st person in my extended family to go for a graduate degree. I’m 27 years old and I have no idea what I want to do and that’s scary because until I figure it out,I’m stuck at a job being miserable,working the 9-5 :-(


Gypsy January 28, 2011 at 7:31 pm

I struggle with this everyday! I have moments of my job that I like, that I feel content with, that I can put up with, that I am bored with, that I dislike, and that I hate, but never that i LOVE. I know I keep going solely for the paycheck.
So until I have the guts to leave and find out what I truly love to do I live vicariously through you :)


Kelsey January 28, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I struggle with this on a daily basis. I am a few months away from completing my PhD in the sciences (I’m in the horrible thesis-writing stage right now), and I have realized that research is not what I want to do with my life. I find it most frustrating when people say to me “So you are doing your PhD, what are you going to do when you are finished?” and I have to answer “Well I don’t really know.” Its nice to know that others feel this way too.


sassy molassy January 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm

AMEN to this post. I’ve worked for five years in a job that doesn’t fulfill me, but i truly believe everyone is allowed to find their dream career. I’m simply searching for the thing I want to get my next degree in. What a decision when you love SO many things. Thank you for this post, Angela.


Freya January 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm

My M.A. is in English Literature and I’m constantly asked if I’m going to be either a high school English teacher or become an academic; and I plan on becoming neither! I wish there was less emphasise on which subjects you major in, and more emphasise on studying what you love and are good at, and on the quality of the skills you learn while at university (writing, research, team-working, communication and analysing skills).


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm

I agree! I also don’t think a degree is a waste no matter what you end up doing…even though Im not in the psychology field I still learned invaluable skills while in school and that can’t be taken away. :)


Emma January 28, 2011 at 10:10 pm

I’d like to disagree. you ARE in the psychology field! Your background knowledge about psychology definitely shines through on your blog entries. Especially ones like these! I think it’s exciting to see how interests and academic backgrounds can fuse into something so great! I like to call it the results of educated passions ;)


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:32 am

Thanks Emma. I do agree that I use my psychology degrees in my current work, just in an unconventional way. I still get the satisfaction of helping others which is what I always wanted to do, even if it is not in the ‘normal’ way. :)


grace b January 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

I agree Freya!

I am a religion major and a political science minor and I get asked pretty frequently if I’m going to seminary. I’ve already decided that isn’t the right choice for me but still find myself telling people that I chose my major because I enjoy it–and I’ve gained some great thinking/writing skills because of it. Not to mention my department is small, welcoming and incredibly supportive.

I wish people would focus more on the skills you’re gaining that the “Will this get me a job?” question.


Andrea January 28, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Ang – I totally agree with this! My mom used to always say “education is lost on youth” and it would annoy me to no end! But I think I didn’t understand, and at the time I thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life.
Now, at almost 27, I still don’t know “what I want to be when I grow up”. I started university in the Concurrent Education – French Honours program and in 2nd year I did a placement in a grade five class and decided then that teaching was not for me. I then dropped the con. ed. but continued in French, all the while keeping those 2nd teachable subjects “just in case”. I thought that maybe I would look into post-grad programs but couldn’t narrow down which one I was most interested in but didn’t want to go back to school and take a program I didn’t truly love, as I had in my undergrad. Once out of university, I was faced with student loans that I thought I would never pay off, working at a job that had nothing to do with my degree, but I love it! I still don’t know if this is what I am meant to do but it’s helping me narrow it down. As they say, hindsight is 20/20 and I’m much happier working in a job that maybe pays a little less than what I would have been making had I continued with teaching, or jumped right into a post-grad program.


Monica January 30, 2011 at 9:36 am

I’m in the midst of a concurrent education program right now and felt the same way after my 2nd year placement. I know I don’t want to be a teacher, but I’ll certainly use my education degree since I’d like to work in the field. However, when I tell people that I no longer want to teach they seem shocked. It can be hard listening to them comment on how great teaching would be (everyone seems to want the summer vacations!), but I know there are other careers out there that I would enjoy much more.


Stacie @ Imperfectly Healthy January 28, 2011 at 7:44 pm

I’m in the midst of grad school and am constantly wondering if I’ve made the right decision. There’s a part of me that feels like I chose my career field because it was the safe thing to do since it’s where I have all my experience. I seriously don’t even know how I would go about switching into something else at this point, which is depressing because I’m only 26! But at the same time, I have really good days and love what I’m doing — it’s so confusing!


Caroline January 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm

I’m one of the many people to whom your story means a lot. My brothers and I were all somewhat pushed into college by our dad’s expectations. I graduated with a degree I’m not using, the older of my brothers dropped out for a few years and is now back in school, and the younger failed out. I’m now a huge believer in taking time to figure out what you want (and figure out that retail isn’t it!). I’m now in school part time, taking prerequisites for a grad program in dietetics (I didn’t even take bio and chem the first time around!) and I’m happy about where I am. The one piece of guilt (and it’s a big one) is knowing that my parents basically wasted their money on a private college education that I am not using. But I figure that as the oldest I’ll just make sure I’m in a place to provide for them in their old age. :) (Thanks again for all of these posts!)


Kristy @ KristyRuns January 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm

I literally starting tearing up when I read this post. Thank you for the hope! I know all to well what it’s like to feel ‘stuck’ in a job…


Amber K January 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I still struggle with what I want to do with my life. I really want to be a stay at home mom, but my husband and I have been trying for over four years with no luck. Right now I am working part-time, but I do not feel fulfilled. I desperately want things to change, but feel pretty stuck right now.


Ally January 28, 2011 at 8:29 pm

Golly. I really needed to see this, particularly the part about not being a failure. I gave up my lifelong dream of being an actress after I moved to NYC and realized that being a professional artist was not the life I wanted, and I’d rather come back home and be a writer. Since then, I have had a lot of hardships, but I wouldn’t trade my life at home with my family for anything.


felicia January 28, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I’m graduating from college at the end of this year, and everyone keeps on asking me what I’m going to do after I graduate. Endless questions. “What are you going to do?” And I always feel silly just shrugging my shoulders and saying, “I don’t know.” Knowing that there are other people out there like me makes me feel a little more relieved. :)


Stephanie January 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm

Thank you so much for this post. After getting rejected from yet another job yesterday, I have been trying to convince myself that I am not a failure. This was exactly what I needed. I got two BA’s last June in history and political science, and I have been job-searching for over a year without any success. I initially majored in political science, realized I hated it, but I had already taken too many courses to just drop it. Luckily, I still had time to add a history major before my four years were up. I hope I can go back to school in a few years and get a career in history, but right now, I’ll settle for any job offer that comes my way.


Chelsea January 28, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I can totally relate. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I started college, but I ended up studying things I really loved and double-majored in religion and European history with a music minor. I’ve always like school and figured I continue on to grad school and maybe teach, but struggled a lot deciding which major I wanted to continue with and if that was the right path for me. I felt unprepared to make that decision in the beginning of my senior year, before I’d even taken my upper-level courses. I really wanted to take a year off to teach or volunteer, but my mom talked me out of it because I’d have to start paying back my loans and the whole thing made her anxious. I ended up enrolling in a library and information science program that I’m not really happy with. I’m not sure what my next step is, and I may end up going back for my masters in religion or into one of the teaching positions I was looking at before, but I just really wish that I had taken the time off to figure out what I really wanted to do before continuing in school.


J. January 28, 2011 at 8:48 pm

I really really am struck by this. I hated my second degree (my first was tolerable). And my second degree was bad…and I knew it…my god, I would sit on the floor at night in complete darkness wondering why I continued it. It drove me mad, quiet, sullen, depressed, everything.
Now, my health is really, not good. And the job I currently work at? It pays half…half…of what I used to make…and I have major loans, major debt, major bills, everything. I’m just coping. I rented a movie this weekend and I’m filled with shame for it…because I literally need every penny I can get. I have no extras; I spend a lot on food…but I long for a lot more in terms of …everything.
I should be grateful for my job…no matter even if it pays me in 1 week what most people make in one day…literally. And it sucks me of all my time…I’m constantly doing it and it is not sparkling. Just sitting twenty four seven.
And I thought 2011 was going to be a time of exploring more and trying to figure it all out in my head and heart. BUT, I suffered huge health setback in beginning of january…and it looks like 2011 is the year of getting my health back. I have to because right now, I barely walk. I can’t do anything beyond a walk…and it will be a long long time before I do anything else. So, health first. And paying bills and food, and some guilty splurges when possible. Survive…but be grateful. And just keep the faith, right? Just live each day and not think too hard on it.


Shari January 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm

I just wanted to say thank you for sharing your journey with us all! Reading about your change in careers has been very inspirational. Growing up my parents attitude toward their jobs was that it was something you do to pay the bill – I never considered the idea that it could be something you loved! I would agree with a lot of comments that coming out of high school and into university I simply went through the motions as if it was something that I had to do but never thought about why I was doing it or what I wanted to get out of it. I will be graduating in a few months and although I am still uncertain about my career path I am thankful for the opportunities that my undergrad career has provided me which have allowed me to learn a lot about myself


Stephanie @ The Travelling Tastebuds January 28, 2011 at 9:01 pm

This is a great post! I am VERY pro-job satisfaction… haha. It took most of my twenties to have the courage to pursue my passion without the fear of judgement :)


Angela W January 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Wow, Angela… thanks for this post. It’s so clear you have a gift for relating to people and encouraging them with wisdom from your own experience and your positive spirit. Look at the positive difference you are making by being you and being so open and honest!! It encourages me to see someone functioning so effectively in their gifting, as I hope to discover and do one day soon as well! Way to go, girl! Thanks again for the encouragement, I needed it.


Karly January 28, 2011 at 9:14 pm

Whenever I stress about my major being a determinant of my career path, I read this address, given by Andrew Abbott at the University of Chicago: He provides evidence against the claim that there is a strong relation between what you study and your occupation later in life, and he even argues that college learning does not have a significant effect on cognitive functioning. Instead, he emphasizes that education is “the emergence of the habit of looking for new meanings, of seeking out new connections, of investing experience with complexity or extension that makes it richer and longer, even though it remains anchored in some local bit of both social space and social time.” Essentially, education – not the aim of something else, but an aim in itself – enriches life, making it more enjoyable and more meaningful.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

I’ve heard about that before and I think it is fascinating! Thanks for sharing the link…will be checking this out.


Andrew Abbott February 1, 2011 at 10:21 pm

I came here by accident, but it’s nice to know that the message in the bottle ended up in somebody’s boat. Best wishes to all seeking what to do with their lives. To seek is to live. The people who know exactly what they want to do are already that much closer to death.


Suzanne January 28, 2011 at 9:18 pm

I just graduated in December with my Masters in Public Administration. I thought I wanted to work in Non profits until I realized it was just like the business world I was working in, minus the money. Now I’m about to start taking pre req’s for medical school. I don’t know where life will take me and some days it seems like way to much to take on, but I know I at least have to try. I wish I had taken my time and focused more in undergrad so I would not be here right now. Everything happens for a reason though and I think the majority of people are unhappy in their jobs and afraid to make a change. I do not want to be one of those people. Thanks for the inspiring quotes today!


Melissa January 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I’ve been in college for 3 1/2 years now and I’ve changed my major about four or five times. I’m currently a Marketing Management major, but I’m still unsure what I want to do. I think my dream job would be opening up my own vegan bakery. However, I live in Memphis, TN, so there is not a plethora of vegans or even vegetarians out here, to say the least. I am struggling with the decision of either having to move away from my family (which I don’t want to do) to find business, or have an online bakery. My mom is a teacher, which is what I wanted to do for years, but she convinced me that it’s way too much work for not enough pay. You’re definitely an inspiration for living your OWN dream though!


Jess January 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

Thank you so, so much for this post. I’ve been wrestling lately with whether to make yet another career change or not. I finally decided to clear my schedule a bit to leave more time for the things I love and to give myself space to think. I’ve also been setting aside 10 minutes to meditate every day. When I was younger, I totally thought I’d have stuff figured out by 25, but um…yeah. In hindsight, that’s kind of hilarious! I try to appreciate the beauty of being open to change, but some days, I have to wonder what the hell I’m doing with my life, especially as I watch my boyfriend poring over his physicals and bio textbooks and prepping for med school. Then again, he started over at 30 and he doesn’t ever seem scared or prone to attacks of second-guessing!


Christine January 28, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Thanks so much for sharing these thoughts! It’s so funny because I definitely needed to read this post, and even though I’m still not sure where it leaves me, I do feel better just hearing these words.
I’m writing my dissertation right now in a field that I used to think was endlessly fascinating but no longer holds any real interest for me. The quotes in your post made me think, ‘Yes, I should just quit this work that is so devoid of meaning for me and pursue something I genuinely care about.’ And then after reading some of the comments (like the one who finished her PhD and is so proud that she did), I thought, ‘Yes, I should really just struggle through this and make one last push [despite the fact that I really do hate it] because it will be so satisfying to have completed something huge and accomplished what I set out to do.’
I waver between these two feelings all the time. I think I’m scared to quit because I worry that I will always regret it, like it will feel like a huge symbol of defeat or failure in my life, as though I gave up and didn’t have the persistence, courage, or ability to accomplish my goal. There’s also the confusing issue of whether or not my motivations for quitting are positive or negative. I once had a yoga teacher who said something like, ‘if you’re not happy single, being in a relationship won’t make you happy, and if you’re not happy in a relationship, being single won’t make you happy.’ The point was that our contentment in life should not be dependent upon external circumstances; we need to find it within and then it will follow us regardless of our circumstances. In some ways, I really believe this and would like to have the faithfulness and spiritual discipline to finish this work before moving on to something else.
On the other hand, I truly hope that if I do make the decision to stop dragging my feet with something I don’t care about and begin a new path without finishing this one, that I can find the graciousness within myself to leave behind all of that guilt and judgment–to be joyful and proud of my decision and go forward without looking back.
Even though I’m still standing between these two tensions, I really appreciated hearing the wisdom of others! It made me feel better just knowing that many people are working through this process too. Thanks again for sharing!


Katelyn @ Chef Katelyn January 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm

As a senior, I am WAY stressed out about where I want to go in life and what I want to do. So often, I feel like I may never be able to find “my place”, or where i’m supposed to be. Thank you for this Ang, it’s a huge pick me up for girls like us!:)


Emily January 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I felt the same way when I was a senior. I went away to a big school because I thought that’s what I was supposed to do. If I could do it over, I probably would’ve waited a year. Don’t do anything because everyone else is :)


Emma January 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I am in the midst of all of this now! I am 19 years old and going to school to be an teacher. I am SO invested into the program that sometimes I stress that one day, I will change my mind. (Do I want to be a teacher, a mom, a blogger, a yoga teacher?!) But then I remind myself:
You are in control of your own life!
Right now, at this moment, I know that I want to be a teacher. That could change. I could decide that I want to do something else.
But the good news is that the number one thing I want to be when I grow up is…..Happy! As long as I am doing what I need to do to be happy, then all is well. [And I am :D]


Sarah January 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

I am actually really struggling with the “What do I do with my life?” question right now. I am only in my second year of teaching special needs preschoolers. I have spent my entire life ‘knowing’ exactly what I wanted to do as my career. Yet, now, I feel as if I come home everyday mentally and physically exhausted. I am struggling with “taking home” all of the family issues of my students and/neglect issues. It is taking such a toll on me that I am doubting my want for children of my own (which has been my biggest dream ever since I was 6). I am not good with change, but know that this job is not helping me grow or be challenged in a healthy way. All of my family and friends think I love my job and that I was made for this job, so this adds more guilt to the picture. I am trying to trust that my life’s direction will come. I want to believe that I can make a difference, and still feel passionate and happy in whatever I choose to do. Some parts of me just want to get a ‘minds off’ cashier job somewhere in order to let my head clear. Thanks for reminding me that change can be a good thing. Change can be a powerful thing. One action can start a chain of reactions. Thanks for hope.


Ali January 28, 2011 at 10:05 pm

This post touches home with me right now, having just graduated with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering in December. I’ve been struggling with finding a job and becoming overwhelmed with this period of transition. Earlier in the fall I was being pressured by my peers, family and professors to pursue graduate school immediately after graduation, but I just had this feeling that it wasn’t right, at least not right away. I felt horrible guilty most of my last semester because I had decided “NO! I’m not going to apply for graduate school, I do not want to go right now” (which, for some reason, seemed like a horrible thing to say to my engineering peers). Part of me wondered if I was just being lazy – but that’s just silly talk, i’ve spent the past four years in college being anything BUT lazy! It’s also scary because in these long months of job searching I seem to find jobs that I an either over qualified and really want to do – or jobs that i need a M.S. or PhD. Then the cycle just starts all over again with me wondering what the hell i’m doing and if i should have pursued graduate school!

I also have had those moments where i freak out wondering if I am going in the right direction. Although I majored in biomedical engineering and truly am interested in the medical sciences and technology, I have a big creative/artistic side and adore drawing, painting and baking. I’m scared that I wont be able to find an engineering job that is creative enough to keep me engaged and interested.

It’s scary being jobless and nearly broke, but i’m trying to keep holding my threads of sanity! At least I know there are others out there in the same position.


Alex January 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I am definitely in the same boat- I decided not to go to graduate school because I wanted to live life before diving into more schooling. But now I’m in a job I absolutely hate and it’s hard to find jobs that I’m qualified for AND that sound interesting.

But most of all, I absolutely relate to your moments of freaking out and wondering if I’m going in the right direction. I majored in economics, which I enjoyed in a theoretical sense, but now that I’m actually working as an economist, I really HATE it. I also have a huge creative side, so I’m worried that any job I’m “qualified” for won’t be creative enough to keep me engaged. And I don’t really have enough time/energy (or money!) after working 40+ hours a week to do these creative things on the side… It’s an extremely confusing time to say the least!


Andrea January 28, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I love this post- it echoes so many of my sentiments about this topic. At first, I went away to a University 6 hours away to study International Development, in French. I was miserable the entire 2 years I spent away. I was in the grips of a horrible eating disorder and so far away from my family that I just threw myself into schoolwork without ever really thinking “Is this making me happy?”. It definitely wasn’t. When I reached a breaking point, came home, spent 8 months in treatment and re-evaluated my whole life, I came to realize that I need to be close to home, surrounded by people I love and doing something that makes me happy. So I transferred (to the U of G!) and changed into Sociology, and started reengaging with my creative side, writing for the school paper, singing and dancing again. And life is soooo much better! I no longer worry half as much about my grades, but I’m actually doing better at school because I don’t have “all my eggs in that basket” so to speak. I haven’t 100% decided what comes next, but that doesn’t really bother me- I have faith that something will present itself if I keep my eyes, mind, heart and options open. Thanks again for the wonderful post, I think people need to know that nothing is ever as final as it sometimes seems :) You’re terrific.


Caila January 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

This is exactly, *exactly* what I’m going through right now. I’m in my final semester of college and will graduate with a studio art degree, but I realized about a year ago that I don’t want to be an artist…at all. In my head, dropping out was *not* an option, so I decided to keep going so I would at least have a degree. What I really want to do is become a pastry chef and own a bakery, and luckily, my friends and family have been supportive, or at least accepting of my decision. The difficult part is being surrounded by other students and professors who are passionate about art and know exactly what they want to do. I feel like I’m pretending…all day every day. It’s exhausting and I just can’t wait to be done!

Hopefully everything works out, and I’ll be in pastry school in the fall. I’m feeling pretty optimistic after reading this! Thanks for all the encouragement! I absolutely love your blog :)


Hannah January 28, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Oh god, thank you. Thank you. I’ve just started a PhD and I’m fairly certain, deep down, that it’s making me unhappy, and yet all my life I’ve been an academic overachiever and I honestly don’t know what else to do with my life. I can’t say that I’m about to up and quit tomorrow, but maybe I’ll stop being so hard on myself and keep an eye out for another opportunity, while trying to get something of my heart into the research at the same time…


Emily January 28, 2011 at 11:24 pm

I am a perfectionist and over-achiever, as well. I went into pre-pharmacy my freshman year of college because that is what I thought I was “supposed” to do. Liberal Arts was looked down upon at a university famous for its science programs. It took me four years, including taking one semester off (a very humbling experience for me, as a perfectionist) to change my major to Communication Studies and stick with it. Now I get to do what I love, write, and I even landed an internship as an Editorial Intern for a company that promotes health and wellness. Follow your heart. You won’t regret it :).


Hannah January 28, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Thank you so much, Emily. I’m so envious of your internship opportunity! Nothing like that exists in Australia, as internships simply aren’t part of our academic culture/society. Fingers crossed for great things for you… and maybe I should start emalling publishing companies I admire and begging them to let me work for free! :P


Emily January 29, 2011 at 6:41 am

It might sound silly, but do it :). I got one of my internships only because I emailed the editor, set up a date to meet him so he could look at my writing samples, and agreed to work for free. He had already chosen interns for the semester, so I basically just brought my laptop in and worked at the end of someone else’s desk. I know I’m very fortunate that he actually agreed to my idea, but sometimes you’ve just gotta go for it!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

This makes me think of the quote ‘You miss 100% of the shots you never take’ by Wayne Gretzky


Crystal January 28, 2011 at 10:14 pm

Hey Angela,

I grew up in a family of four – mom, dad, my younger brother and myself. My mom and brother dropped out of high school and my dad dropped out to work in a mill, but he eventually got his grade 12 by going to night school. I was the “smart one” in the family so they had high hopes for me.

In final exam week of my first year of college, my dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. It was terrible and I really didn’t know what to do. At the time I was working as a pharmacy technician but I knew I didn’t want to do that forever. I wasn’t passionate about it and I wanted a change.

I moved out of my hometown about a year later and went to a different school (University of Victoria) where I am now in the process of completing a BSc. in biology. I feel a lot of pressure to get that dream job, especially from my mom. She has no idea what university life is like or the huge student loan I have accumulated. I want to believe I am doing the right thing, but it is so difficult to know when all I’m doing is racking up my debt. I have a backup plan that I will go back to school to become an LPN to hopefully repay my loan faster. It costs less than one year of tuition at UVIC, and I can complete it in the same area where I live. So it is more of an investment. But is it the right choice? I struggle with that question everyday.

But I do know that if I try my best and smile every now and then that things will work out. No matter what the hardships I’ve endured, things can only go up from here.


Sara January 28, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Part of why I love reading your blog is because I too went to undergrad for psychology, but I started working in research and put off going to graduate school (which I pretty much felt was a given), on the advice of some grad students (among others), telling myself every single following year that I was going to apply still. Well now I’m 6 years out, loving the jobs I’ve had in research, and realizing I don’t necessarily need to go back to have a fulfilling career. Apparently that professor career I’d had planned for so long wasn’t necessarily what I really wanted or even what I had imagined, despite my best attempts to convince myself it was the only option. My dad is a professor, and he loves it, so he’s always wanted me to get my PhD also, and there’s always this unspoken feeling that you’re wasting some sort of talent if you don’t pursue it fully. I have come to realize that I need to live my life for me, for what makes me happy, and for what will fulfill me at the end of the day, not what others are possibly going to be disappointed in. So long as I’m successful and happy, my dad is proud of me, and if I do go to grad school one day, it’ll be for the right reasons.


Kate January 28, 2011 at 10:19 pm

Hey Angela!
I had an experience similar to this last year. I graduated from Dalhousie with a degree in Marine Biology in 2009 and I was applying for all these jobs with the government that were the next logical step. I was working retail full time while I was applying for jobs and I felt like a complete failure. I was constantly embarrassed by my job. I had an undergraduate degree but I was working in a job where I felt horrible. It was a dead end job for me and I hated it. I left to take a summer job at an environmental non-profit organization doing river restoration. I really enjoyed the work and the people and I felt better about myself by doing it. Meanwhile I was applying for jobs that I found I wasn’t really excited about. I wasn’t even that upset when I didn’t hear from any of them.

At the end of the summer I decided to go back to school to upgrade so I could eventually get my masters. Why? Because that was what the next logical step was. Was that what I wanted at all? Not at all. When I went to my first day of classes I knew that this wasn’t where I wanted to be at all. I almost wanted to get up and leave right after the first 5 minutes of class. I went right from there to the career counseller and made an appointment. Around this time my best friend introduced me to the world of healthy living blogs. I had always been interested in food and nutrition, but this was a whole new world to me. I started reading a few blogs, including yours, and I loved them. I loved learning about new foods and getting ideas about what to make. I’d only ever had instant oatmeal and I rarely ate breakfast. Green monsters and banana oatmeal soon became my breakfasts of choice. While I was talking to my career counseller I took a career placement test and dietitian was one of my top matches. I looked into the career and local schools and decided to jump in headfirst. In January of 2010 I applied to Mt. St. Vincent University and I am currently in third semester of a nutrition degree that will take me another year. I am hoping to work as an RD in a hospital or community setting. I love helping and education people about being healthy and learning about it myself.

I know this is such a long winded comment but I really credit all of the blogs out there including yours for changing my life direction. It made me realize a passion for something I didn’t know I had. My best friend and I still read your blog daily and she’s dealing with a post degree crisis right now as well. She told me that she was almost in tears after reading your post, and I was the same. So thank you for sharing your story Angela, it’s a hard journey, but in the end it’s worth it to be happy and you’ve proved that :)


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:27 am

Kate, what a beautiful story. :) I’m really inspired by the changes that you made and so excited to hear about your pursuit to be a RD. I think it was a great idea to see a career counselor to help you determine your passions. I wish I would have done the same when I first entered school. I wonder what it would tell me now? lol.
I always say that blogging + reading other blogs helped me discover my passions too. Isn’t that funny how it can do that? I have always had an interest in health since I was young, but I guess I never knew how to translate that into anything.


Baking 'n' Books January 29, 2011 at 4:10 pm

Did you find the transition difficult though Angela? In many ways, you are the “exception” to the rule – there are thousands of blogs out there! But you’ve really done wonders with yours (from hard work of course!) – but still…

Do you mind if I asked if you had student loans to pay back from your degrees and if you were able to manage that with making a change?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Yes I took out about $21,000 in student loans during my time in school. I also worked 25 hours a week at a job during my entire time in university.
The transition was difficult, but definitely doable with a strong spirit and a plan!


[email protected] January 28, 2011 at 10:27 pm

I love this and needed to hear it!! I have a bachelors and masters degree (which I am still paying for) and still am not sure I have found what I REALLY want to do yet?? I think I have lots of soul searching to do still..


Mira January 28, 2011 at 10:28 pm

Hi Angela!

I’ve been faithfully reading your blog for about 4-5 months now and have never commented. I love Oh She Glows!

I really related to this entry. I needed to read this, and I’m glad you posted it. I’m in my 4th year right now and have been feeling all of those things lately.

Thanks for sharing and giving me a positive and reassuring boost :)


Sara Johnson January 28, 2011 at 10:29 pm

I am in this position right now! Talked with my husband about it over dinner. The trigger; a friend mentioned her daughter is student teaching in London. I immediately said if I had to do it over and then I wanted to cry. Cry because I’m 26 and I feel trapped and I shouldn’t. 26 is young but yet I feel my time has passed to explore.
I’ve worked for a company for 6 years when it was supposed to only be 3 years. I worked there to pay for college and then I got complacent. It’s been just the past 6 months that I decided to change my life completely and open my own photography business. Perhaps its your blog and others that have inspired me to know I can do anything, but most importantly I HAVE TO TRY!
I”m at the point where I want to give up my cubical and take odds and ends jobs to pay the bills if it means freedom from my current J.O.B. Honestly, the thought of making less pay working at a coffee shop, or a bakery, or a bookstore sounds APPEALING to me! It is all to get my business off the ground.
Thanks for everything you do! I’ve never met you but you seem wonderful! ;)


KatieM~Run For The Bikini! January 28, 2011 at 10:42 pm

Ohh this is AWESOME!! I’ve just recently decided teaching is NOT for me (after getting a teaching degree and subbing for 2.5 yrs) and am pursuing personal training certification. It is something that I’ve always wanted to do but didn’t feel like it was something I could make a living off of. I consider myself lucky that I’m in a position were I can not work for a few months and concentrate on my certification. Nonetheless I am beyond excited that I am finally pursuing my dreams!


Eve January 28, 2011 at 10:46 pm

Wow… thank you SO much for this post. This is exactly what I’m going through right now. I’m a freshman in college and don’t know what I want to do. I thought I wanted to be a nutrition major for so long… then I took my first biology course and chickened out and changed my major to “undecided”. I figured I could be an accounting major… make decent money but have a boring job. At least I could have fun on the weekends and continue working as a personal trainer part-time. But I know that being an accountant will suck! I’m going to try the nutrition thing again and push through it, because I know it’s what I want to do. I won’t be happy with anything else. Thank you so much for this.


Imwaytoobusy January 28, 2011 at 11:04 pm

Oh, yes! Career change? Definitely! I think the most dangerous thing a person can do is stay in a career that they are absolutely bored to tears with because they don’t want to put themselves “out there”. I stumbled into a career as a corporate recruiter after college. I really tried to get into it, but I grew so tired of feeling like I was coming into touch with 100s of people every week and just passing them onto the next place. There were no relationships! I needed to do something rewarding!
I left that position to jump head-first into something completely different! I am now a consultant and supervisor at my current company and love that I make an impact on other businesses every day. My workplace nurtures its talent and I am doing things I never would have imagined I would be doing! Oh, the paths life takes us on! The only interviewing I do these days is just to add people to my team.
Bottom line, if you are hungry for more, go find it! There is nothing more exciting than following your gut, navigating new roads, and opening doors for yourself!


Kathleen January 28, 2011 at 11:12 pm

This is just what I needed to read right now!! I’m finishing my Ph.D. and definitely don’t want to stay in academia, but I’m still unsure what I want to do. And I think it’s OK for me to take some time to figure it out. It’s so encouraging to hear from others who have found their dream jobs, and it gives me hope that mine it out there somewhere!! :-)


Jaclyn T January 28, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Straight-forward education-career route? Ha! Not for me, though at 17 I assumed I knew what I would do for a career.

First I was accepted in Fashion Design, but realized that I am not “commerical/business/marketing-minded enough” and that a career in that field may indeed kill my creativity. Then I decided to do a Bachelor of Applied Arts, which became a BA with History Honours. The “easy route” seemed to be getting my Masters and PhD in this area, which did not work out. I thought due to my marks and others’ opinions that I needed to do something academic for a career, although teaching the subject was what I really wanted to do. I then went into teaching, which I love (though supplying is not something I love), and am waiting to hear back about whether I have been accepted into a Masters of Education program in Counselling Psychology (fingers are crossed!). A fabulous counsellor once said to me, “Don’t SHOULD all over yourself,” and I LIVE by that. Do what feels right, and listen to those quiet voices of bravey.


Emily January 28, 2011 at 11:17 pm

I, too, started college just after turning 18. I began at a large state university in Pharmacy (I felt that people look down upon the arts, so I chose science), I quickly changed my major to Mass Communication so I could follow my passion of writing, got extremely homesick and transferred to a small private college for my sophomore year, became confused about what I wanted to major in (some of my classmates discouraged my love of writing, and I listened..), took the first semester of my junior year off, transferred yet again, this time to a large university in the city where I could commute from home, with my family, changed my major to Education, took three semesters of Education classes and an internship, and then finally decided to follow my heart. This year, as a “fifth year” senior, I changed back to Communication, landed an editorial internship that I love , and will graduate in May. I’m still nervous about finding a job upon graduation, but right now I talk about these worries in my blog, and I just pray and hope for the best! Sorry for the novel…I’m just so glad that other people can relate!


Clare @ Fitting It All In January 28, 2011 at 11:21 pm

This post really hits home for me. I’m a recent college grad with a well-paying job in corporate America. I like my job, and I get to work with fashion, but I don’t LOVE it. I think about changing careers to a more health and wellness field, but I am totally intimidated by the cost and risk. I would also feel like a failure and a little silly for leaving such a great job.

However I also need to give it a chance. I might not like my entry level position, but maybe I’ll love the next step. But can I really live my life thinking “maybe”?


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:20 am

I think it is totally fair to give something a chance until you know for sure. I’ve heard of people giving ‘dates’ for guidelines in their careers, such as ‘If I still want something else by April 2012, then I will make a change’


Coco January 28, 2011 at 11:43 pm

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post, from the bottom of my heart! i graduated from college in december, and i am struggling to find a job. more than that, though, i am struggling to decide what kind of job i actually want!

thanks for pointing out that it’s not always a perfect transition from college to the real world.


Brittany January 29, 2011 at 12:11 am

Thank you so much for this post! Once I finished reading it a felt like a weight had been lifted off of my chest. Thoughts like these are constantly going through my head. I graduate at the end of this year and the thoughts just keep getting worse. Reading this has made me feel much better :)


Ashley January 29, 2011 at 12:15 am

Did you (or do you) struggle with choosing what to study in school? Do you feel pressure to figure out what it is you want to do for a career or finding a way to make it a reality? Did you grow up with parents who were happy with their careers? Have you ever made a career change?

Yes, when I came to university, I felt the pressure to stick to a certain “thing” I’d been told growing up, similar to yours– you didn’t enjoy your job. You just did it. I was, at that time, an education major, and after my first year of terrible anxiety and eating/sleeping problems– I realized that I needed to go for what I really wanted– which was to write, study journalism. I’ve always been really stubborn– so once I was going for it, I went all the way! I changed my major after the first journalism class session I had, and didn’t look back. Then I graduated from university last year, in May. I felt the identity crisis– I was forced to leave my two student jobs, return home for the summer, and when I came back for fall semester (my boyfriend was still in school) I left two different jobs, simply searching for what felt right. I agree, life is a constant learning experience.
But I was also raised with the belief of working hard– and I was set to pursue my happiness. I found, by chance, a job that I am now in love with– and honestly, it has to do with writing! I knew I went the right way, back when I felt so lost and confused.
Go for your dreams– that’s what I say. I love your inspirational quotes– they are so wonderful!


Ashley January 29, 2011 at 12:16 am

Sorry for the copy/pasting of your questions, haha. I’m going on three hours of sleep, so wanted to make sure I kept on track! :)


Gendi January 29, 2011 at 12:57 am

I trained from 16 yo onwards to be an Accountant.
Then at 32 I quit my own consulting business because I hated it, was so ill from stress and run down etc (kids were 2 and 5 then). Started going to church for the first time ever and discovered a true and vibrant Christian faith (unexpectedly) and now at 37 I am hoping to train to be an Anglican Minister/Priest. I decided that I could not let a 15 year old child decide my future anymore … I was only 15 when I decided to be an Accountant.
Who knows what tomorrow holds? I don’t … just trying to live each day as it comes, make plans but hold them loosely.
Early in Dec I was diagnosed with melanoma … had it cut out and some extra tests to see if it had spread. On 31st Dec it was confirmed that it was ALL CUT OUT successfully … which is great and it made me realise that there are no guarantees over how our lives will be … so I want to take inspiration from you to find ‘my glo’.
Thanks all the way from New Zealand.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:15 am

I’m happy to hear that your health is doing well after your Melanoma. :) Thanks for sharing your story!


Alex @ Healing Beauty January 29, 2011 at 12:58 am

Very inspiring post! I decided to take off my final semester of my undergraduate career to continue my recovery from an eating disorder, but it is also more than just the ED that I am recovering from. It is allowing various people in my life to control who and what I would be and when I would be it. It’s difficult to allow myself to be my own person; to realize that I’m 22 and even though when I was in the third grade I would have told you the exact university I wanted my undergrad and where I would go to get my MBA, yes, in the third grade, it is ok that I do not know who and what I will be. Hopefully now that I am seeing much more clearly than I was in the past, I will be able to love, accept, and adore myself for the woman and I am, and even more so, follow my heart wherever it may lead me.


Nina Parr January 29, 2011 at 2:44 am

I love your first two statements. I ignored the little voice that said that “this might not be right for me.” I ended up spending 5 years of my life pursueing a degree I had no interest in, ended up quitting before I graduated and then spent the next 5 years figuring things out. I finally went back to school at 27 and started all over again, but this time with so much more focus and studying something I loved. I finally have landed in the job I love at 38. I used to teach high school and I used to tell the kids all the time that it was OK to explore and try different things. I graduated at 17 and was making huge decisions about my future at 16–it’s crazy. And they still do it to kids–they stream them at 13 and that’s it. I really believe it’s OK to not know and then to change your mind. I’m a prime example!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

Great story!


Gil (snaxandthecity) January 29, 2011 at 4:06 am

Wow Angela what a great post! So insightful. I think the minute we STOP wanting to learn new things, academically or not, then we’ve lost something important. I hope I DO want to randomly change career one day – it’d be fun!


Beach Bum Beauty January 29, 2011 at 4:57 am

This post gives me the shivers because it’s spot on. I run a business with my husband and we’re good at it but we don’t love it. We love working together but the business we have chosen is draining us. We are driven by the fact we need to pay our bills but I often struggle to get up in the morning for another day in the office. We have an employee now so we have an over-riding feeling of responsibility that we can’t just ‘shut up shop’. Our business takes up so much of our time, I don’t even know what I want to do or perhaps I’m too frightened to let myself think about it because I know deep down, it’s not this.

I’m sure we’ll figure it out :-/


Lissi January 29, 2011 at 5:24 am

Thank you for writing this post. I’m currently working, contemplating grad school and struggling with the “what do you want to do with your life questions”. I think this post really reflects what a lot of people are feeling…


ruba January 29, 2011 at 5:41 am

Angela, I just had to comment, if I were to choose my favourite blog to read (and I receive quite a few on my reader), it would (without competition) be yours, probably its because it comes “directly from your heart” more than anything else, and the lovely lovely recipes… :). I guess we never know how much we all have in common (in struggles and interests) until we start sharing… thank you for sharing your “glow”, it is a true inspiration!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:12 am

Thanks Ruba :)


Kate January 29, 2011 at 5:54 am

Hi! I read your blog (a lot) but never comment. But I love this post!
I am 18 and started in med school in September. I worked myself to the bone for two years to get there and was convinced that this was my calling (at this point I conveniently ignored IBS related illness and an increasingly challenging fight with disordered eating.) Then in October I left. What I was most worried about was not whether I would regret leaving medicine (I definitely would not) but rather what everyone would think of me. I couldn’t explain that part of the reason was my low point in my ED or simply that I just didn’t love medicine like I thought I would. As the top student in my secondary school, why was I of all people dropping out?!
Cut to 4 months later and I am training for my singing teaching diploma whilst waiting out the months before I can go back and do my teaching training for music and french. My year off is allowing me the opportunity to teach literacy, tutor music and most importantly, kick this ED once and for all. I thoroughly believe now that your own happiness is the most important thing.
Thank you for being so inspiring with your blog! It truly is amazing :) *crazy fangirl speech over*


CathyK January 29, 2011 at 6:06 am

hwat a wonderful discussion your story has generated, ang! thanks — yet another time!! — for sharing so honestly.
i totally relate. i wen through five years of uni to graduate as a french teacher; taught for three years and it was just not “me.” getting out was the best thing i ever did.
i’ve worked at a running store now for almost 6 years and it IS me. i can tell my parents still “shake their heads” over this…but i’ve learned that this is MY life!!
i’m now 41…and some days DO think about going back to school. i so agree – it’s never to late to take a new path down life’s roads!!
thanks again for your wonderful post.


Lily January 29, 2011 at 7:50 am

This post is really great! I have too struggled with this. For the longest time, I felt like I “had” to attend graduate school and it was the thing to do. After 3 weeks into my graduate school program, I made on of the biggest decisions of my life (thus far). I decided to stop attending and take a leap of faith. As I stopped going to school, I also lost my job (it was a grant funded job and I was only able to work if I was a grad student). This was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make.

But now, 5 months later. I am happier than ever. I found a job that I love, and career that makes me happy. What really made the difference was taking a little time to really think about what made me happy, and making the right choices start living not what I thought I had to do, but what I really wanted to do.


K January 29, 2011 at 7:56 am


What a great post! While my comments do not apply to YOU, nor do I assume them to be true about your readers, I unfortunately feel like a lot of people I know rest on the idea of “waiting for the right job”, “not being sure”, etc. instead of trying to find SOMETHING in today’s job market. I just graduated college a few years ago and although the economy is VERY hard (my dad was let go, my mom forced to pick up a ton of extra hours, etc) you CAN find something right now, even if it’s NOT the dream job. I think it’s very important to keep in mind what your end goal is, what your amazingly perfect dream job is, but I don’t think it’s worth sacrificing for in today’s day and age. Like you said, you can change your mind at ANY age so who says your current dream will be the same as tomorrows? I think finding balance is key — having a solid educational foundation to support you is key, as is having a solid and stable base of dependable income. If those are in place then I think people have the freedom to pursue something that may be a total life switch for them, but I think that a lot of younger kids (my peers, even me!) need to learn to suck it up from time to time (like our parents did…and do!) and make ends meet no matter what. I don’t know if any of what I’m writing makes sense, but I think the aim of it is that i think balance is key — education is never a bad decision — and one should be financially dependable enough to fund one’s own goal! Great topic <3


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:10 am

You make some very great points K. I also felt like I had to ‘put in my time’ with the less desirable jobs to pay my bills and figure out what really made me happy. I think as long as someone keeps in mind that they will not abandon their dreams, it is sometimes necessary to take on jobs that may not fulfill us. Almost like a stepping stone. I think so many people get stuck at this point though. I remember saying to myself that I was going to work in my research career until retirement…even if I didn’t enjoy it…I just figured I would stay there for the stability. I do think the research jobs I had in grad school and after graduation helped me realize what I liked and what I did not. I always say you have to try it to see!


Whitney Fretham January 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hi Angela… Love your blogs (as always). Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

I am really struggling at this point with direction, and what “career path” to take that will help bring me happiness, as well as help and inspire others. I have a B.A. in Art/Graphic Design, but have found through a few flopped unsatisfying jobs in the last few years after graduation that I really DON’T want to do graphic design as a lifetime career. I love art, love design, love writing, love people, love kids, love healthy-eating, love fitness (recently! I lost 43 lbs in the past 8 months and have completely changed my lifestyle), but I find absolutely no satisfaction in working in advertising, marketing, or production. I’m completely lost now with this degree, and a market without many options. I don’t have the “experience” necessary to change my field, and don’t have the money to go BACK to school at this point and pursue something else.

I’ve quit a job I didn’t like, been laid-off from a job I thought had promise, and now settled with a job that pays the bills. I’m hoping that eventually, when the market improves slightly, I’ll be able to redirect my career and find some other means of happiness with what I DO each day, and still earn enough to pay off all my loans and live. :)

Thanks for being such an inspiration to me and so many others! You’re incredible!


Amanda January 29, 2011 at 9:26 am

I am feeling a lot of pressure right now from my college professors. I worked so hard at my undergraduate university to do well and impress them. They all wrote great recommendations letters for my graduate applications and now after spending all the time (and money!) applying I’m not sure if I will accept any offers I recieve. The ENTIRE time I was applying it didn’t feel right and I worry that whoever reads my personal statements will see right through me. I thought that grad school would be a way for me to explore my field more but I’ve have 1.5 years off from school so have been working full time in my field… and I’m miserable!! I hate writing reports all day being stuck at a desk and not interacting with anyone, I’ve been completely unproductive and not working to my full potential. And even after grad school my job would be the same I would just have more responsibilities. So now I have to block out what my professors want me to do or think I will be good at and pursue what I know I’m good and what I know will make me happy. I am already in the process of studying to become a certified fitness trainer, and I am planning on starting to take my pre-req courses this summer to become a registered dietician. I would love to open a health and fitness center with my husband (he trains in mixed martial arts) and use part of the profits to reach out the less fortunate in our community by offering free fitness classes and nutritional assessments. I just exploded with creativity and ideas when I thought about becoming an RD and it feels RIGHT. I was really depressed this last half year because I strugled with the “what do I want to do with my life” and I did feel like a failure because I wasn’t working to my potential but once I decided to change fields and follow my heart (and not my brain) a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I truely got my “glow” back. I have only just started this change but already it has done amazing things for how I view life everyday and makes me appreciate everything so much more.

A huge help in this transition was reading Po Brandson’s “What should I do with my life” it’s over 50 stories of people struggling with these same issues, it’s a great read I highly recommend it to everyone. It showed me that there are other people like me, with the same concerns, and that I could very well face this same dillema in another 10, 20, 30 years, and that’s ok!! As long as we are doing what we love at that moment! It is possible!


Haleigh January 29, 2011 at 9:40 am

I don’t think any one really knows what they should do career wise at such a young age. I think that it’s based on trial and error. When I first started university at 18, I had no idea which career path to choose. It gave me a lot of anxiety. I changed my major twice that year, then I met my husband and moved overseas to Europe, so I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. The only program that was available in English was International Business, so I didn’t have any other choice. To make a long story short, we moved back stateside, and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, not until I just blindly chose something. Like I said earlier, most people don’t really know what they want until they get a taste of what they like to do. I also think that in this economy, people are lucky to find any job. And in that case, I believe that it is beneficial to find something outside of your career that gives you personal fulfillment. Your job/career doesn’t have to be everything. Work to live, instead of live to work… that sort of thing.


Allison @ OneWhiteTulip January 29, 2011 at 10:30 am

I really wish people talked about this more. It took me nine months after graduating just to find a job that wasn’t working at a coffeeshop, and I questioned EVERYTHING about my life. I have a degree in journalism, but I realized 2 months before graduation that I loved writing, but hated journalism. I’m currently working as a technical writer…we’ll see where life takes me.

I really feel bad for my husband. All his life he’s planned to go to law school. But when an entire year went by after graduation and he still hadn’t applied, he finally confessed that the thought of law school made him want to throw up. And he was only going to apply because he felt like he had to, since he didn’t know what in the world he’d do with his degree in government. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I told him he absolutely should not do something that inspired such DREAD. And seriously – he was the first person in his family ever to get a college degree. And instead of being proud of his accomplishments, he was mad at himself for not achieving even more.

I think there’s a huge disconnect with our generation. We’re told we can do anything, to follow our dreams, that we’re awesome. But then we graduate, and a lot of times, following our dreams doesn’t put food on the table. Then you’re stuck doing data entry, 9-5, wondering, “is this it?” And since you’ve always been told that you can do anything you put your mind to, obviously you just didn’t push yourself hard enough, and you suck. Cue depression!

I wish there was an easy solution! I think maybe being a bit more realistic with college and high school students about the job market would be a good start!


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

I couldn’t agree more! Well said. :)


Richelle January 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

I am trying to figure out what I want to do right now. After high school I went into ems, because my mom mentioned it and I felt pressure to do something right away. I did my EMR and then my EMT-A. I worked for an ambulance service for about a year and hated it. I dreaded going to work and hearing the tones go off. I was very unhappy. I ended up moving and decided to do something else. I wanted to go to school, but the person I was with at the time didn’t think our relationship would last if I did. I should have realized right then and there that it wasn’t the right relationship for me, but I didn’t until over 3 years later and the last two we were engaged. Anyway I ended up doing my physical therapy assistant diploma through distance and working at the same time. It took me almost 4 years to complete, but I did it. I left my fiance in June and finished my diploma in December last year. I enjoy my job most of the time, but I don’t feel like it’s something I want to do for the rest of my life. I am not passionate about it. I was going to go to university to get my masters in physiotherapy, which would take six more years of school. I realized though I was doing this for the wrong reasons. I was doing it to make more money, but in the long run I don’t think that’s goingt o make me happy. I have decided to travel abroad for a year instead. It’s the perfect time in my life to do this. I am single, have no kids, no mortgage. I just need to pay off my car loan and save up. I have set a date to make this happen and am researching places I could go.


Sarah Anne January 29, 2011 at 10:38 am

Wow, Angela – I think somehow, you just wrote my life story nearly up until now! I too, just kept going through school because it was “what I was supposed to do”. I was supposed to know what I wanted. I was supposed to know what kind of job to get afterwards. I was supposed to get good grades. I was supposed to know if I wanted to go to FOUR more years of law school or graduate school. Right?

I entered graduate school, went into a deep depression, didn’t leave bed for 4 days and ended up working on a thesis that I hated. I found a job and left graduate school behind. I didn’t un-enroll. I just walked out. The following years were tumultous to say the least. I sat for hours, checking data in my new work, sometimes going two days without speaking to a co-worker. Not being able to pay attention, I sought help to figure out if I had ADD or not. They medicated me, I was also on anti-anxiety drugs and I still wasn’t happy. Being new in the job, it took me longer to ‘get’ things and I got chastized for wasting company money. After making a couple mistakes (I don’t exaggerate here), I felt so horrible about myself I decided to give my notice. The day I planned to give notice, I was called into my boss’ office and laid off…2 hours before I was going to hand it in.

A sign? Definitely. The last 5 years since then have been so difficult, but I’ve finally discovered what I love – nutrition, health, healing and fitness. My fiance is so supportive of what *I* want to do…not what the building school loans dictate, not what my parents determine, b ut what makes ME happy.

You really did strike a chord with me today and I thank you for that Angela. Thanks for your honesty, your truth, your dedication to happiness and your smile. Thank you for sharing it with us day after day.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 11:09 am

Beautiful story Sarah Anne :) I can relate to many things you wrote!


Kristin (Cook, Bake, Nibble) January 29, 2011 at 10:40 am

This is so great. Young women everywhere are so lucky to have you tell your story and encourage them to follow their dreams and don’t settle for anything less than happy. My father has never done what he studied in school, and I can tell every day he’s not doing what he is passionate about, he is disappointed with himself. My mom took a nearly 20-year break from fashion, went back and couldn’t be happier. It taught me no matter what, do what makes me happy because that is what makes a satisfying life. I moved 700 miles away from my comfort zone to a new country, and started something completely new from anything I had ever known… it was scary, but I couldn’t be happier I made the jump. Sometimes you just have to go for it!


Jessica Campion January 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

I have absolutely been struggling with this, pretty much on a constant basis. I am a second semester senior in Advertising with a minor in Italian, but I don’t think I want to work in the Advertising industry. My parents both have been at their jobs since they graduated college and love them. My brother already knows he wants to go straight for his Phd in a field of Engineering and I don’t really know. Actually, I do know, but I sometimes have a hard time admitting it because it’s so far off from what I studied in college. I want to teach English abroad next year. I want adventure and something “off the beaten path”, but then my mind starts wandering to what I will do once that is done though because I can probably only afford a year or two of that. When I think of other future careers, somedays I want to be an event planner, other days I want to be a study abroad advisor and still other times I want to go back to school to be a Registered Dietician. Your post calmed me so much and I even sent it to some of my friends I know who are struggling with these decisions right now too. Thanks for always having a positive blog post & especially for this specific post!


Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table January 29, 2011 at 11:02 am

I wish I had this to read when I was in college. It’s so easy to spend 4 years trying to do what you’re supposed to, forgetting that it is also important to find and follow your passion! But that’s what your late 20s/early 30s are for… right!? :)


Tia Lougas January 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

Wow! 111 comments already. Talk about a hot topic. I am in the last few months of my MA in International and Intercultural Communication. This follows a BA in English and post-grad certificates in Publishing and Writing for Publication. School definitely feels like part of my identity. I already have a full-time job in communication, but it doesn’t really challenge, stimulate, or fulfill me. I can certainly relate to feeling like I have to “put in my time” at jobs I don’t love to get to some mysterious “dream job” down the road. But, I don’t think I’ll know what this dream job is until I find it. What this leads to is a lot of living for tomorrow and a constant feeling of being in transition. It isn’t healthy. But, a mortgage and student loans require a paycheque. Trying to find a balance, between today and tomorrow, that makes me happy is a process; one that I’m constantly working at. What I’m learning is that making myself a priority and taking care of myself–both mentally and physically–is critical in this process. There is certainly some comfort in knowing that I’m not the only one struggling to find balance. Thanks, Angela.


Laurab @FoodSnobSTL January 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

Angela, thank you for this post. Obviously it hits home with a lot of people, myself included. I am in the same position. I paid a TON of $ in loans to go to the best social work grad school, and am now stuck doing something I thought I would love, but actually really don’t, all so i can pay off my student loans. My job is ok, and I am grateful to have it, i just thought I would be more passionate about it. Turns out growing up and getting married changes those passions a lot.

I think our parents generation was all about working hard to get what you want when you want it. Our generation seems to be more about following your dreams. At least that is what I have seen. Thank you for this post. I know I will come back to it when I need encouragement.


Brooke January 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

I can’t even tell you how good the timing was for this post! My younger sister and I were just talking about this stuff last night. She is struggling with finding a way to make herself happy and part of that is finding the right job. I’m going to call her right now and tell her to read this post. It’s perfect ;-)


Elsa January 29, 2011 at 11:59 am

I really loved this post. Thank you!

I am knee deep in making a huge life change right now. I have a degree in English – Creative Writing, but for the last 3 years have been working as a Trademark Analyst for an online brand protection company. I took the job because I needed SOMETHING after graduation to pay the bills and make me feel like my degree had amounted to something successful. Thankfully, it turned out to be a decent fit – I guess you could say it was what I needed at the time. I always hoped though, to do something different – something more exciting than toiling away in my little cubicle all day! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…’s just not for me!:) I felt trapped, limited by my skill set, and biggest of all……..AFRAID. Well, to cut to the chase, my husband and I decided this last year to walk straight into the fear and do something we’ve always dreamed of doing. We are moving to Maui. He is already there and I will join him in 5 weeks. I quit my job. Everybody keeps asking me what I am going to do when I get over there and I tell them all the same thing: I don’t know!! Truth is, I am going to do whatever I find that fulfills this dream of mine. Volunteer with the Pacific Whale Foundation, learn to garden in a tropical climate, maybe open my own gluten-free deli/bakery – and if I have to work at a coffee shop or a retail job in the meantime, then so be it. All of it is worth it because the dream is coming true. I am at a place in my life where everything on the outside (career, income, etc) looks unsure and risky. But on the inside, I have never been more sure. And it’s the weirdest thing – in two weeks I will no longer have a job. And yet, I feel really……successful. And I’ve never been happier.

Sorry for the long comment. But I just had to pipe in. I really loved this post and obviously felt like I could relate! :)


Sarah January 29, 2011 at 12:11 pm

This really found me at the right time. I’m completing my last semester as an undergrad English Creative Writing major. All of my undergrad/high school years I proclaimed that I would be going to grad school. I didn’t know why or even particularly want to, but I always thought this was the key to success. I had so many mentors and friends suggest it. When it finally came down to applying, I went into a panic and decided not to apply…at least right away. I want to have time to figure out what I want out of it and if it’s really worth it.
I still have no idea what I want to do. Everyone always assumes I plan on teaching but it’s not my passion. Thanks for saying that it’s okay to not have it all figured out!


Sarah @ See Sarah Graduate January 29, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Wow. Thank you so much for this post. I’m pretty sure this is exactly what I needed to hear. I’m graduating in May (!!) and up until last semester planned on attending Physical Therapy grad school… but after countless observation hours and trying to convince myself it would make me happy, I realized I was just lying to myself. So now here I am a few months from graduation and my entire life plan is up in the air. It’s SO nerve wracking but I’m a firm believer in fate and deep down know I’ll find a job that makes me happy–it just might take me a while to get there.


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat January 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm

LOVE this post Ange! I know we’ve had discussions about finding the right career etc but I always love talking about it. I had the benefit of my university’s co-op program so I had a chance to try out various roles within my field of study and decide it it was really what I wanted to do. Right now, I’m happy with my choice and really like my situation. Having said that, I think we always wish for bigger and better things, and I’d love to increase the role of health and fitness (and blogging of course) in my professional life. Not sure how to do it yet, but it’s always on my mind!


Bronwyn Coyne January 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

I know I’m in the right place, or heading there. I have doubts here and there, but mostly I think it’s not being int he wrong program, it’s being in school that’s suffocating. I don’t know what I’m going to do when I finish. I mostly know I’m sick to death of school and ready to get out there and work and see what works for me. I may not be happy right now, but I’m hopeful. I KNOW without a doubt I’ll be in a job/career I love. I don’t know just when or how, but I know I will.


Shelly January 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Thank you for sharing all this. I am 21 (started college at 17) and am about to graduate in a couple months. I started crying while reading your post (I guess I am even more stressed than I thought I was). I needed to hear someone say all this.

Thank you.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Awww *hugs* It will all work out :)


lk January 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm

Thanks for posting this Angela. I feel tied to my job because of the time and money I’ve sunk into it (I’m a lawyer) but I JUST HATE IT. I fantasize every day about the many things I’d perhaps rather be doing (personal chef, teaching yoga, clinical psychology) and every day the “perhaps”, combined with my foolish calculations of return on investment, keep me from doing anything about it. 2011 is the year for me to take steps (even if baby ones) toward doing things that fulfill me and taking steps away from things that drain all of my time and energy (i.e., my job . . . where I sit, currently). I am confident that it is possible to call my goals foolish and ungrateful. But I’m going to prospectively choose not to call them those things.


Carly (Swim, Run, Om) January 29, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Angela, I’m a longtime reader but I don’t believe I’ve ever commented. However, I need to tell you that when reading this post, tears were streaming down my face. One year ago, this was ME. I was so unhappy and unfulfilled. I was 23 and felt like I had already failed at life, and it was just day after day of misery until retirement. Literally, that’s what I was looking forward to, at 23!! Thanks to hard work and some divine intervention, I’m finally at a place where I’m not completely happy, but I know I’m well on my way to getting there. And that’s made all the difference. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I have it bookmarked in G-Reader to come back to every so often.


Kennedy @ Running After Balance January 29, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Beautifully written post Angela! I can completely relate to everything you said, especially because I am currently making a career change! I quit my job in communications earlier this month to go back to school full-time to become a holistic nutritionist. It’s been three weeks, and I couldn’t be happier (Sidenote: there are ladies in my class who are in their 40s and 50s – stay-at-home moms and women who’ve been working in another field for 20+ years).
Like you, I was 18 when I started university (I went to Wilfrid Laurier) and after my first semester, I was already changing my major from economics to arts. When I graduated with a degree in communications, I had no clue what I wanted to do with it (and was pretty sure no one would hire me) so I decided to do a post-grad in public relations. I barely knew what it was before I was applying. All I knew was that it involved writing, which I loved. I liked the program, but after a year or so in my first job, I knew it wasn’t really making me happy. But I didn’t know what else would, until I found blogging, cooking and running. Now my life seems to just make sense. I love that no matter where we are in life or what we’ve done, we can always make a choice to do something different. :)


Jeni January 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm

This was sub an amazing post, thank you! I feel like I had such similar experiences when it came to figuring out my career. I graduated with a degree in psychology and immediately went to work in research. I hated what I was doing. I would fantasize about getting into car accidents on the way to work just so I wouldn’t have to go in. It was awful, and yet I applied for PhDs because I couldn’t see where else I’d go. I went to all the interviews, was accepted and when it came down to making my choice, I couldn’t decide. I realized I didn’t want to go to any of the schools I was accepted to; I didn’t want to do a PhD at all. It was terrifying, but I turned them all down, and made a list of what I really wanted from my life and career. 2 years later, and I am in graduate school for Physical Therapy. And I love it and am happy every day!

To anyone who is considering a career change and is unhappy, all I can say is it’s soooo much better on this side! You could not pay me to go back to that career path, and being happy in your career is the best thing you can do for your health, your eating, your self esteem, your relationship, your friendships, etc etc. I just wish everyone who is thinking about it luck and encouragement, and Angela thanks for the amazing and inspirational posts!! You have been a massive inspiration in my life for the past year.


Tracy @ Commit To Fit January 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Great post! I have changed my career path many times over the year and last year I left the fitness world to study PR. Now I am looking for ways to combine my love for health and use my communications skills. You are right: it is a tough market out there. I have been job searching for a while and it gets frustrating, but I am trying to stay positive and keep moving :)


Cara January 29, 2011 at 1:07 pm

I started off doing ASL Interpreting (which I LOVED) and then due to some life upsets I stopped school and have struggled getting back in the swing of everything. I have a great job with a software company so I’m thinking of doing Computer Science but am not sure that I would enjoy a ‘stare at the computer all day job’ because your eyes start to melt. I’m 22 without a degree and I am feeling the pressure! The question I attempt to dodge at ALL costs is “so what are you doing now?”…because I have NO IDEA. ASL or Computer Science?! OR Exercise Science…hmmm and the thing is, you’ve got to know these things somewhat in advance because of finaid and applying to the school ahead of time. BAHFRIKINHUMBUG! watching videos like make me want to go back into ASL lol Love Deaf Culture! :) Okay I’m done with my essay now. sorry for the length but this post came at the perfect time!


Tiffany January 29, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Great post. I can really relate to the feelings of “this decision is forever…and will forever alter the course of my life.” I feel like that about most things and often end up frozen, afraid to move, or pick something just to make a decision and have it done with!

Two years ago I changed careers and received a second degree as a BSN. 100,000 USD in school loans later, and two years of practice leave me with the feeling that I might have made a mistake. I don’t love it. Actually, I don’t really like it at all. I’ve spent a lot of nights crying about this recently. I am slowly realizing that it’s ok, that I can continue to pursue other interests, and if nursing doesn’t work out for me, I will find something that does.

I try to constantly remind myself and my female friends that we are smart, driven, capable women. We are the kind of women that will never be “stuck” because we will never stop trying…even if it means changing your mind and having people look at you like you’re crazy.
I try to remember that life is transitory…everything changes, including goals, dreams, and feelings…and that’s ok. You just need to go with the current instead of fighting it.

My new dream is to begin an organic garden/bakery and possibly become a lifestyle/health/nutrition coach. So I’m reading everything I can about the subjects in my free time, logging numerous hours in the kitchen, and attempting to enjoy my day job for what it is…a day job…for now!


Nessy January 29, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Amazing post! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings :-) It is great that you are finally doing what you truly love.

I am 16 years old and have always dreamed of becoming a veterinarian ever since I was 4 years old! I have such a passion for animals and would never dream of being anything else. I’m Swiss so I plan on going to college in Switzerland. The universities there are so cheap because they are mainly paid for by the government (as in around $3,000 !) The vet/pre-med programs are also only 5 years, compared to 8 in the USA. After I finish college I plan on staying a year in Australia in an internship. I am a big planner and although I know things may not always go as planned, I just love thinking about my future opportunities! I am very driven and love planning long-term goals.


Zoe January 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

Wow. This is EXACTLY what I needed to read this morning. I am in the 5th year of an engineering PhD program which I absolutely hate. Everyone I work with tries to make me feel like a failure, but over the few months I’ve started to find the strength to ignore these people and follow my other interests in life. You are truly an inspiration, Angela!

Thanks for your post :)


Heather January 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Thanks Angela! That was very inspiring!

I struggle with what I am meant to do for work all the time (I have a Bsc. in Natural Resource Management and work in the area of contaminated site clean-up) . Which sounds great but it might not be the right fit for me!

On book that I absolutely love about following your dreams is Thomas Moore’s “Life at Work” it really inspired me!

All I can do is follow my heart and keep learning. I am currently taking night classes in counselling psychology (a personal interest if mine) and also pursuing my personal training certification. I would love to be able to feel that I am really helping people increase the quality of their lives…which is something you certainly do through your blog!

Keep up the great work!


Molly January 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm

This post is me right now.

I’m a sophomore in college. Before school, my parents told me that I had to major in a science or math- to ensure job security, so I did, even though it wasn’t what I wanted to do. (Their philosophy is get a degree, then maybe you can mess around and find something else, but always have that degree to fall back on.) Basically, I’ve been panicking lately about where my life is headed. This post is so inspirational! Thank you.


Kathleen @ Kat's Health Corner January 29, 2011 at 1:59 pm

I sometimes struggle with choosing what to study, but I just remember what my passion is — Nutrition. I know that I want to do something in the area of Nutrition. PERIOD. Therefore, I choose classes that will give me options. Like I going to do Chemistry, as it gives me more options than Biology. I have gone through many career choices, but I know my passion is Health and Nutrition, and if I stick with that, I will be happy. It won’t seem like work — it will seem like play — I will enjoy it.


Moni'sMeals January 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm

A really great dicussion.
I think there is so much pressure to know what we are suppose to do with our lives like we are all robots!
I rebelled what can I say! I love my job and life and being a trainer and healthy foods chef is the best job. :)


Lizzy January 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

I definitely struggle with this. I’m an English Honors student right now, and I love my subject area. However, I don’t want to go into communications (like most English majors do) after I graduate – I’m taking English because I want to write. Obviously, no one I know supports this as a ‘career choice’, or even encourages me to carve out a large space for writing while working in another capacity. The idea that I might be happiest working very part-time (just enough to live on) in a bakery or greenhouse, while using most of my time to write, is shocking to most people. Slightly less shocking, but still not encouraged, is my hope to enter a creative writing program, work with writers I admire, and apply for artistic grants to live on while I write full-time.


[email protected] January 29, 2011 at 2:26 pm

I love this post, Angela- and it really struck a chord with me! I am a junior in college, and graduation is a year away. I am pretty terrified! I am definitely still figuring out what I want to do and how I want to go about doing it. And honestly, I have no idea. I came to school planning on doing journalism or law, but I really want to explore other things and not limit myself (especially since I feel like so many people go to law school for the wrong reasons). Luckily, my parents are very supportive so I don’t feel tooo much pressure to get a job right away financially- if anything wanting a career is something for me, to feel like I have succeeded. A great majority of my friends are on the pre-med, MCAT, med school track too- so it is hard when they have such specific goals and I feel like I am just coasting.


Emily January 29, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Oh God, I *think* I know what I want to do after I graduate from my university… It is kind of terrifying to think about. But thank you for reminding us to step back and look at what is truly right for the person we are. I REALLY admire your honesty (with yourself AND us).


Angela January 29, 2011 at 2:39 pm

This post could not have come at a better moment for me. I am struggling a lot right now with continuing on to a graduate program that I have been working towards for YEARS now, but have recently realized is not something I am passionate about. My true passion in life is in something I gave up on a few years ago for many reason (fear of failure being the biggest). I am desperate to go back to it but have been resistant because I feel like I would be letting everyone down. This post gave me a lot to think about. THANK YOU


Alex January 29, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Thank you so much for this post! I worked so hard all through school and University and have been kicking myself ever since I graduated, because I’ve been finding it hard to find a career that’s the right fit for me. Thank you for reassuring me that I’m not a failure! Guilt is such a waste of time and energy. Its such a shame so many of us are so prone to it.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 2:46 pm

I agree that guilt is a waste of time and energy.
Also on an unrelated note, I LOVE the name of your blog!


AGS January 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I believe that people are amazingly flexible — this enables us to do many different jobs, and perform many different roles — thank goodness! Unfortunately, this same trait enables us to continue for extended periods of time that are fundamentally not suited to our abilities and personality. Eventually, many of us will end us worn out, and frustrated. You can dig a tunnel with a spoon for awhile, but eventually the spoon wears down, because it is not truly designed for the task of digging.

What I happen to find rather peculiar is this notion of “quitting” and “failure” that so many of you reference. Since when was switching careers a sign of weakness? Frankly, to be able to successfully switch careers is a mark of resilience and tenancity. It took me *2.5 years* to make a career switch, through networking and discussion, graduate work, and then even more networking and discussion — and even then, the field I eventually landed in (aviation) was something of a risk for me (as a job in my originally planned field of public diplomacy didn’t turn up when I needed to start earning $$). It was a very difficult 2-3 years, and there many moments of frustration and anxiety along the way — including incredible stress the first 6 months of my time in my new field. Switching careers is NOT easy, particularly when you are fairly far along and respected in your original location (read: 3 promotions in 4 years). So, changing fields once, twice, or more, if you actually have it in you to do it, is a sign of *strength* precisely because of the effort required to forge ahead.

For those who are uncertain of where to start, there should be *no* fear — just give whatever you find worthwhile at the moment a try. You *can* change later, if needed, provided you are thoughtful and up to the challenge. There’s nothing wrong with not knowing you shouldn’t dig a tunnel with a spoon, but it’s lunacy to continue doing so once you have discerned that the tool is unsuited to the task.


Rebecca January 29, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I agree that our sense of “failure” is misguided. Making any big change in your life requires strength, courage, and patience. For me, the sense of failure when I decided to quit my first career stemmed from not following “the rules.” I was the golden child on the golden path, neatly checking off all the major life goals in the “appropriate” order. Though everyone in my life ended up being supportive of the decisions I made, it certainly surprised them at first. It surprised me most of all.

I think the sense of failure is related to jumping off the expected path, especially for people who always followed the expected path. But you’re exactly right in saying we need to reframe our view of that. The decision to quit my job was scary, but it was also freeing and honest, and it created a positive ripple effect in my life.


Barbara January 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm

I definitely think I am the “senior” commenter at 53 but I really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts on such an interesting topic. I was the typical stay-at-home mom until about 15 years ago when the husband left me to raise 3 sons by myself–no financial support. Since I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer (!), I went to school on the “Welfare-to-Work” program which was helpful but limited my education. I had to make a quick choice. I decided that a secretarial job would pay the bills while I finished education on my own. I got my AA and a Secretarial Certificate in 18 months! Then I quickly realized that if my sons were not going to become single parent statistics, I had better concentrate on making home life stable and extra nurturing. The youngest is 18 and I’m happy to say they are all doing great and working on their own life journeys. Since being a secretary at a medical university on the academic side, I have met many incredible professional faculty members and absolutely wonderful students. I have always made it a point to ask faculty if they love what they do and was it a good fit, and how did they know what they wanted to do. Nine times out of ten, the faculty did not know that they would end up where they were. It seemed to fall into place by very unexpected events and people who inspired them or pointed them in a direction they could not see for themselves. I see some of our students excel and exhibit natural skill and talent and then I see others desperately unhappy and take hit after hit to their self esteem. Sometimes I feel that even though I am not in my “dream job”, I am in the right place at the right time to offer some careful counsel. I have been able to convince some students to go a different direction and take the time to find what will make them happy and sometimes to encourage the tired ones who just need some extra support to finish. I try to be a happy face, a place they can come vent or get a snack and talk. I’m happy to be in a supportive role, kind of a professional mom I guess. I still would like to go back to school so thanks to all who posted “it’s never too late” encouragement. I guess I have tried to make lemonade out of lemons and be happy at my work, not necessarily happy with my work. I work with people who hate their jobs and it shows and makes my working life harder they are so grumpy and difficult. I think for those of us who are “stuck” at the moment (things can always change) we just have to look beyond ourselves and at the big picture. Be a positive force for good and I have faith that good things will come. I have had amazing blessings along the way that can’t be measured in money or recorded on a piece of paper. Enough said….except Angela that you have an amazing blog. Your gift for inspiration, insight and great recipes has been a wonderful addition to my resources and I have recommended it to several students who I know would benefit in one way or another. Thank you and keep up the good work!


Sarah February 2, 2011 at 9:40 pm

This comment literally made tears spring to my eyes. Barbara, I commend you so much for your positivity. Life has thrown you some unforseen situations and you have stepped way, way up. You sound like the sweetest lady! Thank you for sharing your perspective–your students are very lucky to have you in their lives.


Darcy @ She Sings at the Table January 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I am definitely feeling some serious fears about losing my “student identity” this coming May! I’ll be graduating from law school, and although I’ve really loved my courses and think I’ll enjoy being a lawyer if I can find the right job, it’s a little scary not knowing where I’ll be next year at this time. Up until this point in my life, I’ve always known what the “next step” would be, and now I have no clue. I’m trying to view this as incredibly exciting, rather than completely terrifying…the possibilities are endless :) Thank you for a great post–it’s always nice to know you’re not alone when it comes to the things that sometimes keep you up at night feeling a little freaked out!


Lesley January 29, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I am in the same exact boat. Graduating law school in May, no clue what my future looks like after that. Scary!


Darcy @ She Sings at the Table January 30, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Oh man….I know. But we’ll be OK…right? :) Good luck to you!


CM January 29, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I am right smack in the middle of this. At the end of December, I quit a job I had been doing for the past two years. I know how all of you feel. I felt like I was stuck. I felt like my energy was drained. So I finally quit. I’ve been at home for just over a month. I had some savings, and I’m still living at home with my parents, so thankfully no rent expenses, but I’m still paying for monthly car costs and other expenses.

I am focusing on me and getting stronger from inside. Over the past weeks, I’ve read so many books, shows, and blogs on self-improvement and the like. I really appreciate hearing all the inspiring stories. I’ve though I might want to become a massage therapist, but shot that down. Today I have another idea, something that has been tugging at me for quite some time. I think I may be finally brave enough to research it and see if I can make another career change. I’m 27 and I truly feel like we have to find our passion and make life worth living. Why should we be stuck in some 9-5 that feels useless.


Melissa @ TryingToHeal January 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm

This post rings so true to my heart. I used to work at a job that I hated; it was behind a desk and I was entirely miserable. Although I got paid well and what started as an internship would turn into a no-can-fire military job, I knew I couldn’t do it. When I got an offer from a friend for the job of my dreams being out in the wild with birds and gators I took it up without a heart beat, and everyone thought I was crazy because I was taking a HUGE pay cut.

But I told them that they aren’t working my job. I want to be able to wake up in the morning no matter how many hours/days I work and love that I’m going out to do what I love. As long as I have a roof over my head and food on my plate, I’m good! I don’t need all that extra stuff! Besides, if you choose to do something you love for work, you never end up “working” a day your life… :)


MeagAlayne January 29, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this… After 4 years of undergrad, and one year of fully sponsored graduate work, I was so unhappy with my choices that I up and left and was in total career no-man’s-land – Still am! I know exactly what I want to do – be a registered dietitian! – but after years and years of school and hard work in a field that doesn’t interest me, it’s incredibly difficult to face the reality that I may have to go back to school once again (along with all the debt and uncertainty that follows it) to pursue something entirely different. It’s so nice to know that I’m not alone!


Rebecca January 29, 2011 at 5:53 pm

I’ve been a regular reader for months now because your story resonates with me on multiple levels, including the overachieving in school/being miserable in your job/starting over to save your sanity part. I, too, went to graduate school for psychology, but after 8 months working as a therapist, I knew I had to quit. It felt insane to walk away from the hard-earned start of a career, but I have never had an inkling of regret.

After taking several months off, I’m back in school now studying something that has always been a part of me–English. The biggest lesson I’ve learned (and the point I think you’re making as well), though, is that if 10 years down the road I don’t want to teach English anymore, that’s okay. If at that point I’m a stay-at-home mom or running a yoga studio, that’s okay. And if I’m ever unhappy with my career again, I can confront the problem without feeling like a failure.

Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with others! Your open discussion of overcoming disordered eating has helped many people on the long journey to recovery, including myself. Your authenticity keeps me coming back to your blog even though I’m no longer a vegan.


Cheryl January 29, 2011 at 5:59 pm

I have been struggling for as long as I can remember with the question of ‘what am I going to do about my job’? Literally, this question is in my head day in day out and has been for probably 13 years now. It’s exhausting. I feel terrified I’ll never find what I want and i’ll just be torturing myself with this never answered question for the rest of my life. However I do agree with you; it’s OK to change your mind, it’s ok and not unusual to be unsure of what you want, life isn’t a success or failure depending on what you are doing in your career. What matters most, I believe anyway, is finding happiness and often it can be frustrating whan that happiness seems so far away, out of reach. I’m sure i’m not the only one who finds this scary and hard to deal with at times. I take heart in the fact that I am not alone, that sometimes the most interesting lives are those that involve change, change and more change, and that it takes guts to keep searching, rather than settle for the obvious and ignore those ‘i’m not really that happy’ gut feelings. I feel there is a lot of pressure to be seen to be successful – to have ‘The Job’, The House, and all the trimmings. I am trying to focus my attention less on finding The Job and more on experiencing life and trying new things – and maybe, MAYBE I then might find where I belong. I try to encourage anyone I know, young or older, to focus on doing fun, happy things, rather than what they feel they ‘should’ be doing. Being passionate about something can be such a fulfilling experience, in ways that a big pay salary never could.


Natalia - a side of simple January 29, 2011 at 6:22 pm

After reading so many of these comments following up on your post, Angela, I realized that all these words, personal accounts, and inspirational encounters couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m facing graduation in May for my undergrad education and naturally I’m thinking about my future, what job I’ll have, what my career will be, what life in general holds in store. What I’ve found truly comforting during this time is simply placing my trust in God. I firmly believe He created me to have a relationship with me, so I’m putting my faith in Him and praying that He gives me the strength to use the gifts He has given me. I know only through Him can I succeed, which gives me courage and heart. Sure, I may not know what lies around the corner, but I trust in Him. One of my favorite quotes is simply, “Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.”

Thanks for this series, Angela!


Margaret January 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Hi Angela

Great post and amazing response from so many people. As parents we want to do the right thing or our children. Each generation seems to want their children to have more than they had or to achieve greater heights, so we tend to push our children as much as we can. We tend to forget that we were once in the very same spot, been there and done that and made our own decisions.

My oldest son went to university but in his second year decided that he was wasting his time and our (his parents) money and decided to quit school. He felt he really wasn’t learning the things he wanted to learn, and felt even if he did finish his degree, then he would still have to take courses and workshops to get the certification for what he did want to do. Fortunately for him, he knew what he wanted to do for work and set about starting his own company and taking the individual courses he needed to achieve his goal.

I will say, it was much to his fathers disappointment that he quit school. My son has not looked back a day since he made that decision and has been the happiest he has every been since he quit his university course.

Like a number of your responses, he also wanted to take a year to travel prior to going to university. His dad decided that was not an option – if he stayed in school we would foot the bill for his education, but if he quit – he would be on his own to fend for himself. Talk about putting pressure on your child. I feel if our son had stayed at school, then he would have finished his university degree. However, he might not be in the job he now has and loves with a passion, but could be stuck in a job that he doesn’t like. In saying that, I do however think he should have taken his year off school and done some travelling.

He was not a happy person and was not happy with his life when he finished high school and started university. He is now a very happy person with a wife and two beautiful children and working in a job he enjoys. I had to battle his dad and give him a lot of support when he did quit school, but some mom’s do that for their sons and daughters and try to give them as much support as possible. University is not for everybody and I felt at the time if he was meant to finish his degree, then he would figure it out and go back to school… so far, that hasn’t happened.

For the people who are out there taking degrees and not knowing what to do… I always wondered what somebody would do with a degree in history or geography and where would that get them in the business world – Like most of your readers parents, I came from a generation where you had to work to pay the bills. When questioning this at one time (a lot of years ago) someone told me, “It is not the subject that you decide to study in university that is so important – it is learning how to study and master a degree. If you can master one area, then you can learn anything else you put your mind to.

I did not go to university, I went to vocational school (in Ireland – in Canada this would be community college), after high school and learned typing and bookkeeping and became a secretary/bookkeeper. In at time when women were’t paid with equality, I was fortunate to have a boss who felt “if you can do a man’s job, then you should be paid the same salary” and I went on to become a general manager of an automotive company, before I quit work to have children. In my early 40’s when the youngest of my three children started school, I went back to school and became an Interior Designer. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I had forgotten that that was one of the things I wanted to do when I came to Canada, but I had to take a job in an office and continue the work I knew, in order to pay my rent and put food on the table. I couldn’t afford to go to school at that time as I was now out in the world “on my own”. I have to say, I have loved this career with a passion. I read somewhere the other day… its not work if you love what you are doing… so true.

So, don’t give up on any of the dreams you have. If they don’t happen today, then there is still tomorrow, next week, or next year to start working on those dreams again. Hang in there all of you who are struggling. Life WILL get better.



Kristen January 29, 2011 at 6:36 pm

I actually found your blog because of your career change. I am lucky that I knew my passions and stuck with them. I have a degree in Exercise Science, but after I graduated from undergrad, I couldn’t find a full time job. When I finally found a job I loved, it was part time, and when I was moved to full time status, it only lasted 6 months due to the economy. I decided that I would go BACK to school and get another degree in Physical Education since I loved working with kids and could still pursue my passion for exercise and health. It took me another 6 months after I graduated with my 2nd degree to finally find a full time job that I love, even though I am only an assistant and get paid hourly.

What really struck a chord with me in your post is that fact that the majority of my friends found jobs right after graduation and are happy with them. I feel like I am just as highly qualified for the jobs I am searching for, but just can’t seem to land that dream job – and I’ve been out of undergrad for 4 years now! That’s a long time to not have a “real” full time job. It’s frustrating, but I try to find the positives in all the jobs I’ve had – experience, meeting many new people, and finding other passions during my times of unemployment and parttime jobs!

Thank you for your passions! You are always so inspiring and your blog has really helped me through my times of unemployment and career change. I can’t thank you enough for your positivity, and of course, the delicious healthy recipes! (BTW, I made the chocolate pecan nut butter today… to.die.for!)


Allison January 29, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I definitely experienced the overwhelm of not knowing what I wanted to “be” when I “grew up”. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Recreation Administration and graduated from college thinking that I would enter the working world as someone who traveled and hiked and enjoyed being active in the outdoors…for a living. I soon came to the harsh realization that I had no idea what to do next and that I needed to make some money to survive as a “grown up”.
I ended up cubicle-bound and working in corporate information technology jobs for 12 years before quitting to be home with my kids in 2009. Now, while spending my days with my boys, I also do some work with a business that does bootcamps and triathlon training for women in Northern California and I write a healthy living blog ( I feel like I’m finally free to listen to my heart and follow its lead to finding work that is tremendously fulfilling. The coolest part is that what I do now is equal parts skills and passion- the skills I have gained through the past work that I have done and the passion just comes naturally if you listen closely enough to your heart. :-)


Lesley January 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Angela, this post really spoke to me. I am in my last semester of law school and I don’t have a job waiting for me. Honestly, some days I question even wanting to be a lawyer. It is a super confusing time for me, which causes me lots of stress, especially when I see my peers, one by one, getting decent jobs.
It is frustrating and hard when my future ‘career’ is so unknown.


Kate January 29, 2011 at 8:18 pm

I think that part of the problem with post-high school stress lies with the universities. Universities USE to be about learning and knowledge not about careers. Nowadays they are far more career focused. In many undergrad courses are taught to allow you to pass the exams, rather than for the sake of the knowledge itself. But I think in many ways we can combat that by loving learning for learnings sake.

I don’t think any degree is a waste. You always, always, always gain invaluable skills and knowledge that allow you to better yourself and further yourself in whatever career you decided to pursue.

I’m 30. I’ve done two degrees (BA in Philosophy (Hons) and a JD (Law) – which I finish in 4 mths). I took time off between school and university and between the degrees and travelled and just lived. I still am unsure of what I want to do. It use to cause me great anxiety (and if I’m honest, still does on occasion), but now I just look at it as a learning process. I’m eliminating the things I’m not interested in and refining the things I am interested in.

I’m really excited (and a little bit scared) about my life. I think this is a good thing.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 29, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I always say a little bit of fear is a good thing…means that you are pushing yourself and your limits, right? :) Goodluck with everything!


Ryan January 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Angela, this is such a great post that so many people need to hear, including myself. People have always scoffed at me when I’ve said I want a variety in my career: psychologist, photographer, hiking tour guide, etc. The one-track path seems way too strict and I hope in the future it will change, so that people will not feel so apprehensive about what they are “supposed” to do in their lives.


[email protected] Hungry Mess January 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm

You are truly inspiring, as per usual, and I couldn’t agree more!

After 3 years of going to school for business, I transfered to culinary school. I always thought I had to get a “legit degree” in order to be successful and save my passions and interests for my after-work hobbies. Life is simply too short.


Annette January 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm

I totally needed this post today. I just finished my Master’s degree and have no job offer yet :( I am completely sad about this because I AM passionate about my field! I just got my Master’s in EXercise Science : Health Promotion. I can’t wait to share my passion of health and fitness and good nutrition with others and it is extremely nerve-wracking to not know where we’re going to move, WHICH job I will be working, and WHEN!!!? I am having faith that everything will work out- but I totally appreciated this post tonight. Thanks a ton (it is oddly good to hear that I am not alone!!!)


Erin January 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm

Great topic! I went to university straight out of high school not knowing what I really wanted to do. I ended up taking a year off after my first year, which turned into 4 because I met my future hubby that year and ended up following him for his work. During that time I did a number of things including a diploma in Resort and Hotel Admin, worked for a grocery store and a bank, and took an entrepreneurship training course where I learned to develop a business plan. Entrepreneurship runs in my family, and I really caught the bug at that time but felt I should finish university.

I eventually got a degree in International Relations focusing on mediation and conflict resolution. I always hoped to work abroad, but by that time I was married and it would have been very difficult for my husband to follow in his line of work (he’s a cabinetmaker). I considered grad school, but wasn’t ready to commit and took a job running an interntional education and research program at the University of Calgary. It was a great job, but I really hated the bureaucracy of working for a large institution. I was also the only paid employee of a program that relied on a volunteer board of directors, which proved to be a huge obstacle to getting anything accomplished. It was extremely frustrating.

After a few years, I was looking for a way out and yearned for a baby so maternity leave seemed the perfect solution. When my older one was 10 months old, we had the opportunity to buy the cabinet company my husband had been working for, and I jumped at the chance to fulfill my entrepreneurial dreams. It was a departure from my formal education, but my business courses and project management experience were the perfect compliment to my husband’s hands-on skills. It was a major leap of faith and has been extremely challenging at times (I was back at work when my 2nd son was 10 days old, and brought him to the office with me for the first 7 months). However, it’s been way more rewarding than working for someone else in a job I didn’t love.

It’s been almost 5 years and we absolutely love working for ourselves! I’m definitely a born entrepreneur and couldn’t see myself working for anyone else ever again. I’m so glad we had the courage to follow our dreams and we haven’t looked back.


Jenna January 29, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Thank you so much for this Angela! I’m a first year University student and even though I took a couple of years off between high school and college I still feel lost a lot of the time. I struggle with what classes I should be taking, if I should pursue a Master’s, how I’ll pay off my student loans when I’m done. Reading your blog and hearing your personal story makes me hopeful for my future.


Roz January 29, 2011 at 11:50 pm

OMG, what an amazing post. I went to university at 26, graduated at 30, and have YET to feel it was worthwhile. I just didn’t get the career I expected. That said, I’m not sorry I did it, it’s now paid off, but I’m still looking at “what I want to do when I grow up”. Thank you for your comment “you are not a failure for not knowing what I want to do”. I really need to remember that sometimes. As always, thanks for your wonderful (and today very thought provoking and reassuring) posts. Have a great weekend.


Jess January 30, 2011 at 12:02 am

I don’t often comment but I just had to on this. Wow, thank you for this post. I’m currently in my 4th year of graduate school going for my PhD in Biochemistry in upstate NY and I really struggle with this kind of stuff every day. The more and more time I spend here, the more I realize I don’t want to do research for the rest of my life. But, I don’t think my school does a good job of training us for anything other than staying in academia and becoming professors–which is something I 100% know I do not want to do. So I’ve been trying to do some research on my own to figure out what I want to do with my life after my PhD…so far, I’m not too sure. I routinely play with the idea of not doing anything science related for a little while at least since I’m kind of burnt out from research. This post really spoke to me and I just wanted to thank you for putting your thoughts into words on this…I’m going to save this so I can read it over when I’m having “one of those days” :)


Kathy January 30, 2011 at 12:13 am

Thanks so much for writing this Angela – I can relate to many of the same emotions for my current job though I did not go to grad school. All these comments above have made me realized that I am not alone in my struggles and have inspired me to write about it too. I really don’t even care if anyone reads what I write, but I’ve found that writing is a wonderful outlet to express oneself. I think it’s amazing that you’ve been able to turn something you love into your own business/career, but your posts have also taught me that landing something you truly love is not always quick or easy.. there can be a struggle at first, but it is possible to find/do something one loves. It just may be a journey :)


azo January 30, 2011 at 8:14 am

THANK YOU SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FOR THIS POST!!!!!!!!! I just graduated out of college with a degree in Economics and I have nooo idea what I want to do with my life. I realized in my senior year in college that the field of work for economics is not for me and have been trying to figure out what I want. I was feeling so desperate and lost lately, like a total failure. Everybody around me seems to be so focused and ambitious. Then I read this and it assured me that I don’t have to be like that, it is more important to find the thing that really makes you happy, that inspires you. Again thank you very much, you made me realize that I’m not the only one struggling and put a smile on my face.
ps: I love your blog!! I recently became vegeterian and I’m from Turkey and it’s kind of difficult to be vegeterian here. Blogs like yours really help :)


Laura January 30, 2011 at 8:48 am

I’m struggling with this now so thanks for writing this post!!!


Anna January 30, 2011 at 11:36 am

I chose my university because they had a wide range of degree options and I did not want to transfer if I changed my major. I ended up keeping my double option in choral music education and piano performance but there were a few semesters that I almost dropped one of my options. As I am finishing up my student teaching this semester I am glad I kept both options. I feel like they have made me a more well rounded individual. I don’t know where I will end up but for now I am fairly confidant that I will be teaching music someplace. I just don’t know if it will be in a public or private school or teaching private piano lessons again. I also have looked into teaching English in Korea for a year or finding a church music internship if I can’t find a teaching job or I decide I need a break. I am a little worried about finding a job but for now I am focusing on ending strong and realizing that I have many different options that I can use if something doesn’t turn out.Thank you so much for sharing your story!


Jenna January 30, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Thanks for the post… and the discussion is amazing.

I used to be an academic overachiever and I felt like I needed to be at the top of my class doing impressive things all the time. I went into engineering and had several amazing research experiences… including one where I was away from home and working by myself in an empty lab every day. I just couldn’t make myself do it again.

I’ve branched out from science and research to more people oriented things. I’ve experimented with business, entrepreneurship, and nutrition. I’m really not sure where things will end up.

When I graduate in May, I’m moving to join my boyfriend as we’ve been doing the long distance thing since August… and after that… I don’t know. I just want to take the time to relax and really think about what I want. At the same time, I am really afraid that I will get complacent or fall behind and never really figure out something that I enjoy and make enough money to live off of.

We’ll see… it will be an adventure!


Heidi January 30, 2011 at 12:54 pm

I was in a similiar situation. My dad was a fish biologist for the DNR and I always thought that would be the greatest job. He loved it, I loved him and wanted to be just like him. So when I went to college I studied biology and environmental science, graduated with a degree in that only to find out that I hate mosquitos and bugs that come with working in nature, I don’t like being hot and sweaty unless it’s on a beach with a tropical drink. I took a job out of college that I thought would be great and, well, it was awful. I cried myself to sleep every night and the best day of my life was when I had my daughter b/c that was the last day I worked at that awful, mind numbing job. Fast forward through 5 years of being a stay at home mom with a BS in Biology and I fell into the best job I never even knew about. While staying home, I worked retail on the weekends to get out of the house and have some adult interaction. A job posted in our store for a loss prevention associate and I thought what the heck, might as well try for it. I got the job and I catch shoplifters for a living. It is the most awesome job I’ve ever had, I don’t use my biology degree, ever, at all but I couldn’t be happier. I’ll never do anything else. Never in a million years did I see myself doing a job like this, but it was a matter of going outside my comfort zone and taking a chance. I couldn’t hate it anymore than I did my first job! It’s the best decision I ever made!


Sarah January 30, 2011 at 1:38 pm

I love this post so much! I think so many of us can relate to it, either now, or at some point in our lives. For myself, I grew up with a love of math and the sciences, and I was supposed to be a doctor or a vet or something. When I started college, I declared my major as chemistry, and then changed it shortly afterwards to physics. I had decided that I was either going into physics or engineering, but after getting further into college, I realized that even though that was something I loved, I was miserable thinking of that being the career path I followed.
It’s amazing to me how something that we have such a passion for in school can become the most miserable career choice we can imagine. So I took an education class, just to see if it was a better fit, and I fell in love with it. My whole family argued with me that I would be miserable, I wouldn’t stay in it more than a couple of years, and that I should change my major back. My mom even went as far as to tell her coworkers that I had a physics degree (my associates) because she was apparently embarassed that I had decided to become a teacher. It was then that I realized that I had never wanted to be all of those things for myself – I loved the study of the subject, but the seeing myself in that career path… that was never what I had wanted for myself. And I couldn’t imagine being happier with what I do now. Sometimes your heart knows something long before your mind will accept it.


Tamara Lea January 30, 2011 at 4:33 pm

I dropped out of college when I was in my early 20s. I went back intermittently to junior college. Eventually I realized that not having a degree would hold me back so I decided to go back to school full time and crank it out til I was done. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life so I decided to study something I enjoyed – psychology. I knew I didn’t want to make a career out of it but I thought it might help me from a personal growth perspective, and it did.

Through my work in school, I realized I wanted to work in HR. I made the transition and am in a job I love! Now I’m getting my MBA,which is not as interesting as psych was but will serve my career well. Knowing I’m in a career that makes me fulfilled and happy makes it tolerable to study a topic I find a little boring.

The long and short of it is, I’ve learned to enjoy the journey, which is what life is all about!


Paulina January 30, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Oh man.. I’m so glad to see I’m not the only one struggling with this. I have to choose a major for next year and I honestly I have no clue what I want to do. Everyone expects me to know already. I want to be happy with my job whatever it is, but I feel frustrated like I’m supposed to do what everyone expects me to do. The student identity thing really freaks me out too. Thank you so much for this post! Oh and also I’m a pretty new read and your blog has been really inspirational to me. Thanks!!


schmei January 30, 2011 at 9:15 pm

I think I’m going to bookmark this post and come back to it and the comments again and again. Both my husband and I are in what we’re calling a transitional phase: we’re both finishing graduate degrees this spring. We’re getting all these questions about when he’ll jump in to the ratrace for his career track and when we’ll start moving every year to different interim jobs, etc, etc…

And we’re realizing that’s not what we want at all.

We both enjoyed our graduate programs, and I have no regrets about doing this, but we know ourselves better now, we know each other better, and we want something else out of life. It’s good to live with someone who “gets” it, but then it’s awkward to interact with our well-meaning families who just think they know what we’re doing because our degrees come with this expected trajectory.

It’s going to be an interesting year. But we’re just going to have to weather the looks, the confusion, the “but what about your CAREER?” questions.

It’s good to know there are many of us feeling this way.


Marit January 31, 2011 at 8:06 am

Hi you clever one!
Thanx for making this a non-taboo!
I actually have the oposite problem.
I graduated in 2001 with a BA in TV and film making. I loved every single second and truly wish i had applied myself and participated even more.
I would LOVE LOVE LOVE a job in my area of education but i have not been able to find a job. There are waaayy too many Indians and not near enough Chiefs.
But film making, the dynamics of the crew, the energy on set, the anticipation of seeing soomething I have made on the big screen…. that is where my heart is…
I’ve done a lot of different jobs, warehouse, advertising, sales… you name it!
i’m at the moment in a series of secretary-jobs and other Admin positions through the temp-agency Adecco, and i’m loving it! There is variation, there are lovely people to get to know and there are challenges…
But i miss the moving image and using my skills which now after 10 years – and so much going on in the film industry – are technologically totally outdated…
I am considering an MA but can’t afford the living expenses if i do.

Doing what you love isn’t always a possibility. :(
Thus I will work and i am determined to enjoy my work regardless of what it is that i’ll be doing.


Nadia January 31, 2011 at 11:45 am

What a great topic! It’s really neat to hear other people’s stories! I have a degree in English Literature, and loved (on the whole) every minute of it. I don’t want to teach, and have no idea quite what I’m going to do, but hoping things will work out. It’s often the things we don’t think about and the paths we wouldn’t usually take that end up being the best for us. At the moment I’m living on the other side of the world for two years, enjoying the history I love and working in tourism. Yes, I may just be ‘working in a shop’ as other people may see it, but I adore my job and it is just the right thing for me at the moment. I need to head back home shortly and don’t have much of an idea of what I want to do when I get there, but I’m hopeful that something will jump out and give me a chance to learn some more in the next phase of my life.

Thank you so much for the inspiration, Angela, and to everyone for sharing their stories!



Gas January 31, 2011 at 4:17 pm

I think there are a number of things operating here.

I think college has turned into a means of extending adolescence and grad school has become an extension of the extension. I think that in part is why people feel like a fraud in these programs. Sometimes you are just ready to progress into full adulthood and continuing to be a student impedes the natural progression into full adulthood.

The other problem I think is in our system of schooling. It in large part is based on a conspiratorial lie. The lie is: you pretend to learn, and I will pretend to teach. You will get a “degree” and I will get a pension and we both will have appeared to do our jobs. The hallmark of this conspiracy is: just teach me what is on the test. If that’s all you care about then you will feel like a fraud. Engage school in a way to actually learn what you are studying to the level of KNOWING it.

My experience is degrees that get “used” are degrees that lead to licensure like MD JD CPA PE etc. otherwise what you study is not necessarily related to what you wind up doing. It would seem a BA in anthropology won’t get you very far in that field BUT in general people who get a BA will earn 1 million more in their lifetimes so completing that degree no matter what will be to your advantage.

Learn everything you can and don’t just stay in one area. You can learn things in parallel not just serially. When I was an undergrad I studied psychology, chemistry, physics, and electrical engineering. I did grad work in biophysics. For jobs I was a janitor, drove a truck, delivered pizza, taught physics and electronics and worked as an electrical engineer. I did further grad work in physiology, and at some point got bored with engineering and went to 8 years of med school and residency. Once I was out of training I had to learn how to be a small business man in order to run my practice and how to invest in order to retire and be able to send my kids to college. I also have to do 120 hours per year of continuing education. This is the great thing about America, you get to be who you want. No one will stop you.

One way you figure this out, is ask yourself: who do I want to be at 60. If you can’t answer that then ask yourself: who don’t I want to be at 60. What you are at 60 will entirely based on what you do every decade before you get there. I asked myself that question at 29 and the answer was not an old engineer. Today is my birthday and I am 59. I have largely become who I want to be and I have largely avoided becoming who I do not want to be based on asking these questions. NO ONE IS GOING TO DO THIS FOR YOU. NOT YOUR PARENTS, NOT YOUR SPOUSE (SPOUSES) AND CERTAINLY NOT YOUR GOVERNMENT. No one is going to make this easy for you. The only way into the future is through the present. One last thing, try and avoid debt as much as possible. It is debt that will make you a slave and unable to make a lateral move like going to med school at 29.

If you are proactive in your life instead of reactive you will loose the sense of being a fraud and be empowered in the pursuit of your future. Life if you don’t engage is scary. Life if you do engage is a GAS.


Angela (Oh She Glows) January 31, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Happy Birthday! Thanks so much for contributing to this discussion. It is fascinating to hear your story. All the best!


Amy February 1, 2011 at 1:06 am


I just wanted to say how much I love reading your blog–I struggle with eating well and exercising, and your absolute joy in both, as well as in your life, is so inspiring to me! I love that you show how to eat well, but eat delicious too!
In relation to this post, I just finished my undergraduate degree and am getting pressure to find a serious job or go to grad school–I put that off for awhile and ran away to Asia, but real life is catching up! It’s so great to read this and know that the rest of the world doesn’t necessarily have it figured out, even if they may seem like it!
So, this is a long-winded way of saying THANKS and keep it up! :)


Lisa February 1, 2011 at 9:24 am

Wow, thanks for this post! (And the resulting comments, which have also be great!) I relate SO much! I am a professional violinist and have played since I was 8 years old. I was practicing pretty seriously from age 10 and up, and started college when I was barely 16. (Graduated high school young.) I got both my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in violin performance and now teach private violin lessons and freelance throughout the region. So many people envy my job, since I’ve “Made it” as a professional violinist, but the reality of my job is that I work 7 days a week, 3-15 hours a day (still making WAY less than anyone else with a different master’s degree would) and I will NEVER see a paid sick or vacation day. I pay for private practically useless (high deductible) health insurance (don’t have vision or dental benefits), I pay 35% of my income in self-employment tax, I haven’t seen my parents in over 2 years because I can’t afford to take a vacation (they live 2000 miles away) AND to top it off, I don’t even like what I do anymore. I literally teach BASIC violin skills to 45 kids each week, the vast majority of whom don’t care and don’t practice. We go over the same stuff every week; I could teach it in my sleep. I try to encourage and inspire them to practice, but they still don’t, so I get discouraged and then am so burnt out that I never really even practice on my own anymore.

**Last year I decided to make a change!!!**

I realized that I have a huge passion for health, nutrition, and helping people struggling with eating disorders. (I was anorexic then bulimic for several of my teenage years, but am thankfully 100% physically AND emotionally recovered!) I realized that it is my dream to become a registered dietician and to work with people who have eating disorders. There would be nothing more fulfilling for me than to see someone gain their health back after an eating disorder. I would adore working in either a hospital or outpatient treatment facility.

And so, I have started the long journey to the life that I want! I have taken 3 classes (and working on the 4th) toward the prerequisites for the 2 year master’s degree in dietetics. Of course, the first time around I essentially didn’t take any science classes, so I have a lot of catching up to do! But I talked to my local university (University of Pittsburgh) and they have a 1 year post-baccalaureate program that feeds into the 2 year master’s degree that I want. They said they had designed it for students just like me, who are returning to school for a career change.

Of course this is hard for several reasons: 1) It’s expensive, as I don’t qualify for ANY grants (I have looked!) due to already having a master’s degree, 2) I need to work as much as I can to pay for school so I can’t let anyone in the music work know or they wouldn’t take me seriously as a violinist and 3) it’s quite time-consuming. But I am absolutely determined that I WILL do this! My motto is from a Kutless song: “It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard. Impossible is not a word; it’s just a reason for someone not to try!” Thanks again for this post! I especially loved the “you are not a failure if…” list!! :)


Joy February 2, 2011 at 4:33 am

What a great post! I am currently unemployed and saying to myself “what do you want to do for the rest of your life? What is your passion?” And honestly I don’t know! I know I need to figure it out though because having another miserable job just isn’t ir


Kat February 2, 2011 at 10:04 am

This is me right now at this very moment at the age of 24, I’m panicking. I graduated with a Bachelor’s in Photography. I thought something amazing would happen once I graduated college. But the only unamazing thing that happened was depression and anxiety of not knowing where I was going with my life. You’re so right in saying that you lost your “student identity”, I felt like someone had kicked me out of the club on unfair grounds. All I wanted was to be back in the comfort of my college courses and not facing the reality that maybe I made a mistake going to school for the arts. I keep trying to push my way into the art world, but the give is pretty elastic and only flings me backward. It’s frustrating and the more I sit and ask myself what I’d like to do with my life, the more I hear myself saying “go back to school”. I love being active, I love having nutritional knowledge, I feel myself drifting in that direction more than Photography, but I still have a strong desire for photography to work for me. I love art, I love photographing. I just feel like I am stuck in an awkward position and it is so so very nice to vent and read someone’s blog who expresses having gone through the same exact emotions as I have and am going through presently.
I discovered this blog on Fitsugar and I’m hooked, hooked, hooked!
On a much lighter note I have already made the Chocolate Rice Crispies with PB fudge and I will be making the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salad as well as the Pasta with Avocado Sauce. Cannot wait to try them and try other recipes!


Ashleigh February 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I guess I’m reading this a little late, but I NEEDED this post. I love your blog and all the different topics you discuss (um, and the food.) I graduated in 2007 with BA’s in political science and history. I got a job as a paralegal, took my lsat and thought I was going to law school. It’s 2011 and I’m still a paralegal. I’m applying to law school and I still have no idea if I even like this line of work. I’m terrified of wasting time and money or ultimately hating my future job as an attorney. I keep thinking “I’ll learn to love it.” I’m paralyzed with indecision and so confused about my future. I came home from work one day last week and just laid on the couch and cried “I’m a failure” over and over again. Then I look at the other areas of my life…I’m running Boston in 2 1/2 months. I ran 2 marathons last fall and both were BQ’s. I volunteer with an awesome organization, have a loving boyfriend, and have a wonderful group of friends. I feel like for the past 3 years I’ve given up on my liking my job and learned to make the most of my weekend. Going to law school is necessary to get a bigger paycheck, but I do have the nagging feeling that “this might not be right for me.” I guess I’m still trying to figure out my identity, but this post let me know I’m not alone, nor am I a failure for not having it all figured out.


Kasey @ thisbodyismyhome February 6, 2011 at 11:38 pm

I keep coming back to this post. I’m finishing up my BAH at Queen’s in the next couple weeks and haven’t got a clue what I’m going to do. The one thing I’ve decided though, is I’m going to make the decision for me and not based on what other people want to see me do.


Nicole February 10, 2011 at 1:48 am

I am so happy that I just stumbled upon this post! I am graduating in May with a degree in the mental health field and I was supposed to be applying to grad schools for the fall. But it just doesn’t feel right to me at this time. Except I feel like I’m going to put myself behind if I just hold off on my education. Plus, I’ve already told people that I’m applying and have even asked for letters of rec to be sent off! It feels like a stressful catch 22 and I don’t feel like anyone around me gets it. It felt really peaceful to hear it from someone else that hello just because you turn an age or get a piece of paper (degree) that you magically get it all figured out. Because those things don’t mean I have it all figured out and I need to be OK with that.


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