What goes around, you know, comes around. That’s what came to mind yesterday when someone sent me a link to this post on College Candy wherein Charlsie, a new college grad, charts the difference between choosing a major and, sigh, choosing a life. Let’s look:
Looking back, college didn’t require a lot of serious decision making – even though I thought it did. For the most part, I made decisions about frivolous things such as: Should I wear pajamas to class today? Should I stick to rum and Coke or go for the Jager bombs? Should I go out tonight or should I spend time working on that eleven-page term paper? I know at times these choices sure stressed me out, but looking back, they really didn’t matter the way post-grad decisions seem to.
First, it must be said: Call me old, but I’m more than a little flummoxed by anyone’s choice to opt for a Jager bomb. But back to Charlsie. Our new grad then lists the decisions that lie in front of her: Where to live. Where to work. Grad school or law school. Prep for the LSAT or sign on for the full-time job offer with the big bucks and benefits — and extra hours beyond the normal nine-to-five.
Can’t you just feel the angst? All of which brought me back to this very time last year, give or take a day. Almost one year ago when we launched our blog, the questions were the same as the ones that plague our Ms. Charlsie: Door No. 1 versus door No. 2. Risk or security. Passion or Paycheck. All of which echo our initial theme: It’s great to have options. But dealing with them can be a bitch. As we wrote then:
… we’re out to explore why the generation of women who have more options than our mothers ever dreamed possible suffers from a terminal case of grass-is-greener syndrome, perpetually distracted by what we’re not doing. We’re stressed. Restless. Constantly second-guessing ourselves. Always wondering what we left behind Door Number Two. And we can’t figure out why.
It’s a sign of the times, with much of this unspoken angst revolving around the pressure to choose, something old-school feminists might never have predicted. So how do we get past it? A shift in perspective might be a good place to start. Boston Globe columnist Ellen Goodman may have said it best: “There is talk about too many pressures and too many choices, it’s as if the success of feminism was to blame, rather than its unfinished work.”
We’re up for getting on with the finishing, and we think the first step is to recognize our shared experience. So if this all sounds familiar, tell us about it.
Tell us about it, you did. Here’s what we heard from Lauren:
I do, however, feel concern that I might be overlooking the one thing that is my “calling.” From orchestra conductor to herpetologist to cartographer to photographer to writer, I’ve wanted to do it all. I also know that I can, we all can.
And from Marisa:
My sister used to tease me that I was on the semester system in life because I was always moving and changing jobs. But really I was just worried that I was missing my “true calling” or not doing enough to fulfill my parents’ expectations after all that schooling. (Come to find out later that their only expectation was that I be happy.) Now I’m almost 40 and starting yet a new career (this one will be THE ONE . . . I hope). Looking back I can see how the choices and self-inflicted expectations led to a major paralysis in my mid-20′s…”
I majored in theatre in college, only to burn out on it and give it up after college. but now, every day, I think about that life, the performance life…and I wonder what I’m missing. What did I give up? Would I be happier if I had just stuck with it? Would I , could I be more fulfilled if I were doing it right now? Oy, it drives me mad and I keep hoping that maybe all of my going around about it will make me so nauseous I’ll actually get sick (of myself) and do something….
…All of these questions resonate with me. It’s so wonderful to have the plethora of options that we do…but I have no idea which way to go. Some of the stuff I have absolutely nailed down – I know what kind of clothes I like to wear; I know that I DON’T want to be a mathematician…
The itching thought that runs though my conciousness is that it is ok to think or dream or believe a girl can do anything, yet the doing and execution is what can undo her. Coupled with a family and the people whose feelings and egos may be bruised and battered along the way. The absolute reality is that any job or hobby that evokes passion requires an equal if not greater sacrifice. That notion of ‘What do you want to be when grow up’, is not coupled with ok, you can do it, but it’s going to be hard. Mom doesn’t say ‘Gee little Sammy that’s great — so when you fall in love and get married make sure you can integrate all of your passion and dreams into your marriage.’ That would have been the best advice anyone could have given me. Instead I plunged head long into a decision before I had the courage to really declare my dreams, AND the ramifications of those dreams.
The thoughtful comments from bright women rolled in throughout the year, all of which convince us that this analysis paralysis, this longing for the road not taken, the buyer’s remorse that plagues us all is, one year later, still real. The solutions? The first step is recognizing we’re in it together.
As for the forementioned Charlsie? She blew off the job offer and opted instead to concentrate on studying for the LSAT and applying to law schools. Good for her. So long as she lays off the Jager bombs.