2010. The beginning of a new decade. Canada "owned the podium" during the Vancouver Olympics. Ke$ha was #1 in the billboards. The Facebook movie was just released. And I was one year out of my undergrad. Jobless. Waking up to the realities of the millennial's post-graduate life with no idea of what I was doing and what I had to do. I had no purpose.
Finding a job turned out a lot more difficult than I thought and yet the whole "go to school, get a job" mindset was still firmly entrenched in the back of my head. Try as I might, I just couldn't crack the "3-5 years experience". I went to see resume experts, job fairs and talked to people but it wasn't enough. I just didn't feel I wanted to "find a job" because working just for a paycheque didn't appeal to me. And it doesn't appeal to most millennials.
We've all seen the studies and the narratives about millennials. One in three still live with mom and dad and have no permanent positions. And one in two are not working in the area they studied in. So I worked in retail just for a paycheque. I met plenty of people and learned a lot about myself mostly on the things I did NOT enjoy doing. I realized working for a paycheque really wasn't for me.
I went into a full-blown "quarter life crisis" pondering my existence and my purpose. I went back to school to take more marketing classes, did more job searching, and pondered some more. I tried adding to my undergrad in media and kept looking for that ideal job not realizing there was no such thing. And it was when I read Richard N. Bolles's What Color is Your Parachute that my eyes were opened. I kept failing at landing a "real job" not just because I didn't know enough about the industry but because I didn't know myself.
It took me a while to realize but the answer was right in front of me from the beginning. I love to write: creatively or otherwise, I just liked putting words on the screen. I'm quiet and inside my own head a lot yet I pursued a career path that required for me to be out there more and to network (not that writing jobs don't require this). I was pursuing the wrong careers, working the wrong jobs, and developing skill sets that weren't inherent to my nature. I was like a goldfish trying to a climb a tree.
It's easy to fall into this trap of thinking you are someone you are not. Maybe I was too insecure to admit or maybe I was too pessimistic about my chances of making a living as a wordsmith. It felt like writing was my purpose and I had already known it, to begin with. I wanted to publish a book one day and keep a job as a content writer. I'm attempting both of them now. If I have a regret, it's that I didn't believe in myself enough to pursue this purpose a lot sooner.
It's a common theme not just with millennials. Many people choose to ignore their dreams and ambitions in favour of something safe like a "9-5 job". But in today's job landscape, it would be a bigger gamble to pursue the 9-5 job as opposed to just doing what you were born to do, to begin with. With talks of automation replacing jobs, proposed universal income, and countless ways to make cash with online jobs i.e. the "gig economy", there should be no excuse to not do your purpose.
It may be a tough pill to swallow for some. For many, it is hard to realize what it is. With external pressures such as money, societal expectations, and pride, people's ideas of their purpose may be muddled. But look to the past and realize what you have always enjoyed doing and build from there.
Ignore presuppositions about where your choice will lead you. Most of us have already found our purpose. We just need to think really hard on it. And accept it.