When you’re in your 20s, people expect you to have a life plan. You go to college, get a degree, and then enter the workforce. Or you just forego college and go straight to work. Every decision feels monumental, like it’s going to set the course for the rest of your life.
These expectations leave little room for error. So when a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic hits, it’s not surprising that things might go haywire.
We’ve all been picking up the pieces after the shitstorm that was 2020.
But in trying to cope, I made a major life decision I regretted. Then, in 2021, I learned that it’s okay.
It’s never too early or too late to change your mind.
I don’t know about you, but 2020 was the worst year of my life. I graduated from college into a jobless market, was diagnosed with a chronic illness, and spent almost eight months unemployed.
A few months before COVID-19 hit, I was working a full-time job, completing an internship, and killing it in school. I felt like I had spent the past four years climbing up to my career. My legs might have been burning, but it felt good. I had a sense of purpose.
But just as I was about to reach the top, 2020 happened, and suddenly the ground collapsed from under me. I fell all the way back down to the bottom again. My degree suddenly meant nothing.
I could fill a scrapbook with all the rejections I got (and continue to get).
In those eight months, my boyfriend and I applied to every possible job of interest. But we were only met with rejection after rejection.
Then, finally, he got an offer. The job was in Aspen, Colorado, of all places. I had my doubts about moving to a small town in the middle of the mountains — I’ve always wanted to live in a bigger city.
However, I’d spent months cooped up in my apartment. My self-esteem was shrinking more and more with every “we are choosing not to move forward with your application at this time.” So, I convinced myself that I could make it work, and we moved to Glenwood Springs, about an hour outside of Aspen.
Surprise! I couldn’t make it work.
Since it was such a small town, there was only one job where I could use my journalism degree. So when I got rejected from that, I was out of options. I made myself miserable for a few months being a cashier. Then I made myself just a bit less miserable by working as a receptionist.
Sinking even lower into a pit of depression, I shamed myself for agreeing to this move. I thought I would never be more than just the person that customers yelled at when they didn’t get their way.
I thought that now that we had picked up and moved almost all the way across the country, we were stuck there.
Then my boyfriend said, “Why don’t we just go somewhere else?”
It’s so simple, but I felt so ashamed thinking about it. Once you make a social media post saying, “Yay, I’m moving!” it’s so hard to have to say, “Actually, I hate this, and I’m changing my mind.” What will people say? Am I a failure for not sticking it out?
But there’s absolutely no point in making yourself miserable because you’re worried about what others will think.
Sometimes we make the wrong decision. But in my self-reflection, I realized that moving to Colorado was the right decision at the time. We made the best decision we could have, considering the circumstances. But now, there are better decisions to make.
If you’re regretting a life decision, I encourage you to try this framing too. Of course, hindsight is 20/20, but we can only make our decisions based on our knowledge at the time.
Life is fluid. Not everyone goes through life in the same way as you do. You just have to give yourself the grace to accept where you’re at and make the best decisions you can.
A year after moving across the country, we’re picking up and moving even farther across the country to Seattle. And I can’t wait!
Do I have a dream career yet? No! But if I had let myself get bogged down by this idea that you have to stick to decisions you’re not happy with, I’d be in a much worse place right now.
The future is never clear, so don’t be afraid to change your mind a few times.
I can’t wait to see what comes next!