Three new notifications:
Nicole just got married.
Angie just bought a house.
Stephanie just started a new job.
My latest achievement? Finishing “The Stranger” on Netflix.
Sitting in my room, looking through my latest notifications on Facebook, I think about my life compared to my friends. How can it be we all took similar paths yet ended up in such different places?
I followed the steps I was told to do: graduate high school, attend El Camino College, transfer to UCLA and graduate. Seven years later and I’m back at EC, working part-time and living at home at the age of 30.
Hard to feel like an adult when I have to ask my parents to “borrow” money for gas or groceries–not even counting credit card payments and utilities.
It feels like without a full-time job it is impossible to save for an apartment, retirement, or pay back student loans.
Maintaining a social life has also been difficult. How can I hang out with friends or think about dating when I feel a pit in my stomach whenever I swipe my debit card or know I should be job hunting instead?
It is isolating to see others succeed with apparent ease while I get left behind.
It’s not fair to compare my life to my friends. It’s true we all followed the same steps in the beginning, but it’s the hundreds of choices we make in a day or a week that can lead us down different paths.
Unlike my friends, I decided not to go to grad school after receiving my bachelor’s degree in theater production. I thought that would be enough and a master’s was unnecessary.
After graduation, I realized I didn’t know how to find jobs in stage management, my focus at UCLA. I made some connections at school and did a few non-paying jobs, but didn’t have any luck trying to find a permanent position. I also spent more time working on art than finding a job.
After sitting on the fence for a couple of years after graduation, I decided that I would quit theater and focus on becoming an illustrator.
I know. The art field is not exactly a gold mine, but pursuing something I love will make me happy. Then I will be able to make money with freelance work.
After five years and many soul-draining jobs, I knew I had to go back to school and get a master’s in illustration. But I thought if I went back to school it would mean that I had failed.
All that time and money at UCLA wasted. I also didn’t think I would be able to afford a master’s degree or have time for school and work.
I felt anxious, frustrated and stuck in this jobless limbo. It wasn’t until a friend of mine, who was having similar struggles, told me he applied for the fall semester at El Camino College.
My friend never went to college and was able to make that leap at this point in his life.
It was at that moment I stopped thinking about my next step and took action.
Three semesters at El Camino and I am happy I did it. I see that this was the right time for me to come back. Unlike my first time as a student, I know what my goals are and what steps I need to reach them.
One New Notification: Lauren is making a fresh start.
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