I have my degree in psychology and have thought about getting my masters and maybe going into counseling, but I’m scared to pay for it and take out loans (my dad worked at my college so I did not have to pay, for which I am SO thankful, but I have no clue about how loans work and don’t want to take out loans if I’m not SURE I want to go back to school, or what I would do with my masters once I got it.) I am the primary earner, and my husband and I get our benefits through my job (not an option at his). We would not be able to support ourselves on just his current income. I tend to be a self-defeater, and the idea of taking the GRE scares me, and the idea of grad school just seems so overwhelming.
I worked at a huge coffee chain for four years in college and after college, and would LOVE to go back into management there–so much so that I check their job listings literally daily and have gone to multiple stores to talk to their managers about possible openings. I was given an open-ended job offer as a supervisor, but I’d make considerably less money. My husband thinks I am romanticizing the past and that just because being a barista was fun when I was 19 doesn’t mean I’ll want to manage there. He is very much encouraging the pancake job and is telling me that I am just being resistant to change.
I think I am just conflicted because taking this job is a reminder that I have no clue what I want to do with myself, and I thought I would have some answers by the time I was this age. My parents have both been in their careers their whole lives, so it’s hard for me to shake this idea that I get one career and I’ll do that forever. I feel like a failure who will be miserable serving pancakes forever. – Pancake Flipper
First off, if I make only one point clearly, let it be this: DO NOT go to grad school if you don’t absolutely know for sure what you want to do post-grad school and aren’t absolutely sure that an advanced degree/ further college education is necessary. I cannot stress this enough. Grad school is EXPENSIVE, and, while it may bring you a step closer to figuring out what you do or don’t want to do as a career, there are many more ways to get closer to figuring that out that won’t cost you tens of thousands of dollars. Take it from me — someone who went 50 grand into student loan debt for an MA she doesn’t use professionally — grad school is not the place to find yourself.
So, where IS the place to find yourself and figure out what kind of career is going to fulfill you? Well, the work force is, for one. Working a “real job” will give you real insight into what your skills are and what sort of tasks best utilize those skills. Rather than see your next job — whether it’s at the pancake restaurant or the coffee shop — as the rest of your life, think of it as a paid internship (one that gives you benefits, too). And if you look at it that way, take the job that you think will teach you the most and has the best potential for career growth. If, however, the lowest-paying job of the two doesn’t pay enough for you to make ends meet, that may not be a practical option, and you should discuss with your husband whether you can afford to tighten your purse strings and if making some sacrifices is worth the potential gains.
As for being 25 and not having everything figured out yet, to that I say: NO DUH. You’re 25! You’re not supposed to have everything figured out yet. You’re not even supposed to have most things figured out yet. That you’re even living somewhere other than a spare room in your parent’s home is a step further than a lot of people your age are. Give yourself a break. This is not the world your parents lived in when they were 25, so it’s unfair to compare where you are now to where they were then. We no longer live in a culture where people have one career their whole lives. Sure, some people live that way and bully for them, but, more often than not, it seems that people try various careers, especially as many jobs and industries shrink or even become obsolete as the needs of our world change. It’s not at all crazy to imagine you may have two or three or four careers over the span of your working life. In fact, that seems to be a hallmark of your generation, so you are not alone, you are not a failure, you are not crazy.
Whichever job you choose, you’re going to be okay. Everything is going to work out. You’re still going to come home to a husband who loves you and you’re still going to, hopefully, fill your free time with hobbies and passions that bring you joy. And along the way, you will learn what kind of work makes you feel most useful and brings you the biggest rewards, and eventually, if you’re smart and ambitious, you will figure out a way to get paid doing the kind of work you enjoy. This will be easier if you have a spouse who supports and encourages you, but it can certainly still happen even if you don’t.
My point is, don’t get too hung up on opportunities you think will only come around once. Don’t get so locked in to the idea that there’s one path for you and, if you miss the right turn, you’ll forever be off-course. The truth is there are many paths that can lead you to happiness and one missed turn may set you off-course for a little while, but it could very well be a detour full of scenery you would otherwise miss and experiences that may make you a better traveler in the long run.
You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.