It was 2017. I’d quit a well-paying job as a technical writer (Google it) to pursue journalism. 26-year-old me was a…pessimist? Psychic? She wasn’t talking about how she would go on to win the Pulitzer or have defamation cases for breakfast. She just wrote in a blog post and I quote, “Even if I don’t make it big as a journalist, I know this one year will enrich my intellect, and change me for the better.”
She was right. The one year at J-School was enriching. It was also the most fulfilling period of my life. My soul sang. The people I met, the things I wrote about, the knowledge I gathered… I realized during the course of that year that I was starved for this kind of experience. I was happy being on my feet all the time, chasing the next big story, the next fascinating person/place/thing. Oh, it was beautiful.
Through all of it, I didn’t notice my body and mind catching up with me. I’d taken up a job straight out of college, and in no time I’d turned into a workaholic. Quitting a full-time job and going back to college probably allowed all the pent-up issues to surface. After graduating from ACJ and before taking up my first job as a journalist, multiple physical health issues and a debilitating mental health issue had cropped up. My stint at the newsroom was so short I can’t even think of the term “ex-journalist” without cringing.
It took me another 8 months to get back on my feet and find another job. I had decided journalism as a career wasn’t going to happen for me: my anxiety and depression aren’t manageable enough for me to afford it.
I am trying to forge a new path in life: one where my job is not my major source of emotional fulfillment and satisfaction. I do not have anything solid yet. Right now, I am working on accepting that I can’t have my dream job, that I can derive happiness in other areas of my life. I am figuring out what that would look like.
With the kind of lay-offs and the economic slowdown happening in the wake of the COVID-19, I think many people find themselves in a similar situation.
I am asking myself what I think is a very important question, though nine years too late: what does a fulfilling life look like to me? What values should it resonate with? What would a life where I have mastered managing my depression and anxiety look like?
I am contemplating on the job front, and these are the questions I want to answer: What kind of work would make me feel alive? Will it help me become my best version?
I realize I am not very keen on making it big in the corporate world. Right now, standing where I am, I only want my job to be a means to support the kind of life I want to live. I want to have a life outside of work. I want to be able to catch up with friends who want to meet me at short notice. I want to be able to hold space for loved ones going through a rough patch. I don’t care about “hustling” or “crushing it”. I don’t want to be a big fish in anyone’s sea.
So if you are at a crossroads in life, asking yourself these questions can help. And hopefully, answering one of them can unravel the rest.