Diploma Diaries: The Process of Finding Who You Are

This post is a part of our Diploma Diaries series — our look at post-college life. Interested in submitting your own story? Click here to get the details.

By Christen LaFond, Alumna of DeSales University

I was always envious of the definite “I’m doing THIS!” statements of my classmates. They wanted to be a nurse to save the world, a dancer to entertain the masses, a middle school teacher to educate. I couldn’t even pin down an area of study.

With high school graduation quickly approaching, I really wanted to go to a four-year college. Join a sorority for the bond they have, get involved with all kinds of extracurriculars, have a “normal” college life. But with money being a factor, a community college for two years was the most rational decision, especially since I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I took general studies.

I have a tendency to leap first, look second, so when the thought of being a manager came up, I decided to go with it and changed my major to business management. I learned I wasn’t really management material, preferring to go with the flow. At this point, I was frustrated that I still hadn’t figured out what to do and changed my major to communications. I figured the subject was general enough to find a job.

I still didn’t really have that passion for something, and thought I was the only one. But how was I supposed to figure it out?

After college, I was living with my boyfriend and job searching online. I didn’t have a job for three months but was looking for things like marketing, public relations and advertising. Those seemed doable. After three months, I took a job as a waitress at Applebee’s. A friend was working at an insurance company and said she had gotten in there through a temp service. At this point, I just wanted a “real” job, so I decided to go to the temp agency as well. The process went quickly and I was in at the insurance company before I knew it. I felt like a grown-up. I worked a 9-5, had a salary, went to lunch with co-workers and even had my own 401K.

Not long after, my boyfriend and I broke up, and I moved out on my own. After about two years at the insurance company, I was feeling stifled in the career aspect. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do, and it was in the back of my mind all the time.

My Dad lives in Maryland, about 20 minutes from D.C., and he constantly told me about jobs available. He kept saying, “Move here, you can save money and get a job using your degree.”

After the millionth back and forth, I finally decided to go for it. So I packed up all my belongings, left my close friends, Mom, sisters, apartment I loved and the area I’d called home for 21 years, in the hope of bettering myself in the long run.

When I got settled in, I felt excited. I hadn’t really lived with my Dad since I was 8, so I was looking forward to spending more time with him. I loved that I was so close to D.C., and was ready to explore the city like the chic young women that I’d read about in magazines and seen in shows. I was eager to meet new people and start a new career that I loved.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I didn’t know what I wanted and didn’t know what to search for. Things were feeling hopeless.

One day, my Dad brought home a brochure for a college workshop. I thought, “I really don’t want to go to this. I’m 27, it’s gonna be all recent grads or people still in college, and I’m gonna be the loser still trying to find a real job.” Well, as it turns out, the workshop was canceled because not enough people signed up, but the lady who was running it was a life/career coach. She emailed me, we decided to meet up, and she helped me realize that I do actually have skills and things to offer companies, something I had lost sight of along the way.

I had always liked writing, always enjoyed creating websites and finding my way around the Internet, but I never knew I could translate that into a career. Now I’m working on finding a career as a Web editor. I finally have that direction I was missing in college.

Back then, my end goal was all wrong. Instead of figuring out what made me happy in life, I was only working toward a piece of paper. I didn’t know you could take what you enjoyed and make it into a career. I only knew of “doctor, lawyer, etc.” type careers, but there are so many not in the public eye. Even if I would have put more focus on the long run, I didn’t really start writing until I had graduated. What seemed like a hopeless situation at one point is still evolving.

So I didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life when I was 19, so what? It might have taken me some time, but now I have direction and that’s a step in the right … direction.

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!