When we’re young we’re told we can be anything we want to be and the sky is the limit. But as we try and determine our interests, collect our diplomas and “grow up,” we’re incessantly pressed to make decisions which will carve out the path to the rest of our lives. Looking back at my 17-year-old self, I thought I knew for sure who I wanted to be going into college; a broadcast news reporter, traveling the world to inform and engage others on behalf of a major network like ABC or CNN. With passion and excitement, I did everything right. Earned [somewhat] straight A’s (remember that time I got a 23/100 on a stats exam? lolz), landed a dream internship in NYC during college and secured a job at a national news network in NYC less than six months after graduating Magna Cum Laude.
And then everything fell a p a r t . . .
The hours, the commuting, the move to the city, paying rent, buying food, dealing with [rude] co-workers, being sleep-deprived and the impending feeling of doom.
I couldn’t complain though. I was living the DREAM, right? Working alongside network news anchors, living on the Upper West Side and gallivanting throughout the city that never sleeps was my daily life. It’s a wonderful feeling to have that light-bulb moment when you know you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing; but it’s crushing when that light-bulb explodes into a million pieces of insecurities, uncertainties and a sinking feeling that you’re nowhere near where you want to be.
I realized the only thing holding me back was everyone else’s expectations of who I would be. Jackie the Journalist. Rapetti the Reporter. (And any other alliteration you can dream up.) But when you’re taking ‘sick’ days because you’re sick of your co-workers, that’s a pretty good sign things aren’t so super duper. Now that I’ve expressed my disinterest in broadcast journalism for all the fear-mongering and exaggerated reporting I’ve experienced (not to mention working in a newsroom is about as glamorous as babysitting a bunch of toddlers), everyone keeps asking me what I’d like to do next. But the truth is I have no idea. And then I have a million ideas. A pilot! A chef! An archaeologist! A wildlife photographer! How does anyone decide on just one path?
My mom, who at my age was already married and had me, believes I should have a jump-start on a career by now and be well on my way to moving out of the room I’ve spent most of my 23 years in. She thinks I’m too old to be so wishy-washy about my future. And then there’s my hil-ar-ious dad on the other end of the spectrum who recently said he believes 23 is the new 16.
While I’d like to think I’ve grown somewhat since 16, I still believe I can be anything and everything I want to be even if I don’t know what that means yet. This isn’t me complaining about having to pay bills and do so-called grown-up things (OK, it kind of is…), but I’ve never believed in following social norms. Society says I should have this and do that but, as the Brits say, that’s bollocks. I’m still learning and growing and living on my own terms. I’ve worked hard and saved some money. Sure, I could find some random job, put the money I have towards rent and move out. Instead I’ve booked a ticket, packed some coloring books (for the undying kid in me… plus it’s a great way to pass time on a plane!) and am off to California. And I could not be happier.
Spread kindness and cheer, xo
P.s. If you have any West Coast food recommendations, HOLLER AT ME!