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Posted on Feb 23, 2011 in Dear Diary | 8 comments

Mid-early-early-life Crisis

oberazzi via flickr

Every so often, a girl stops to take stock of things and ask the question: What the frack am I doing with my life?! Well, folks, today (and for the past few weeks, really) I have been that girl. Asking that question. Granted, this is no mid-life crisis. Even I am not so dramatic that I don’t acknowledge the fact that I’m barely even into my early life here. But I still find myself so frequently searching for that big answer to that big question: What am I going to be when I grow up?

For those of you unaware of my professional(ish) history thus far, I graduated from JMU in 2009 with my B.A. in Communication Studies. With the recession and the constant looming threat of how the job market was the worst EVER for my graduating class, I snatched up the first job offer that came along, securing a customer service position at an event-management software company in Tysons Corner prior to graduating. I thought I had it maaaade in the shaaaaade. Job security before I even walked across the stage to collect my fake diploma? I acted like the baller I thought I was, and started my First Real World Job with anticipation, excitement, and typical Gretchen-like enthusiasm.

Needless to say, it did not work out. I lasted exactly 1 year, for reasons I won’t get into here (trying to do the high-road thing.) I had researched various job industries prior to quitting, and I knew that I wanted to get out of customer service but still draw on my communication skills and aptitude for people. I figured that HR would be a good way to still incorporate both of those things. I escaped into an HR Assistant position at a government contractor (still in Tysons) and have been at my current job for the past 7 or 8 months.

While I have definitely learned a ton about both HR and the world of government contracts, I’m finding that something is lacking. I’m still interested in the HR field, but I’m not sure if it’s the slower pace of government work, or the specific work that I’m doing… I just feel like I’m going through the motions but there’s no focus. No goal. No aim.

I don’t know if these feelings would remain the same if I were doing the same thing at a different place or if I’m just totally off-track here, but I feel like I need something to pull me back in. I started this blog only a few weeks after I had started my current job, and even in the short amount of time that has passed I feel like I have changed immeasurably (and not just my dress size!) Since my passion for healthy living and nutrition has been ignited since starting my weight loss journey and this blog, I’ve contemplated going back to school to pursue a dietetics degree (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right Anne? Haha!) But I’ve also thought about going back to school to get further education in HR, or going to culinary school, or revisiting the idea of becoming a massage therapist, or pursuing that dog bakery I’ve always dreamed of opening (don’t judge!) I’ve gone through a lot of ideas in the past year or so.

I just don’t know. I know that I’m still young, that I still have time to figure it out, but so many of the things that I would be interested in pursuing involve a significant commitment – either time or money, or both! And that’s just to get qualified to DO those things, forget about whether or not you love it or not. You won’t know until you get there, and I don’t even know where to start.

I guess my question is, how do you know when it’s time to take the leap? How do you get the courage to jump in? How long before “taking some time to figure things out” is really just stalling on letting your life begin?

Ok, I guess that’s technically three questions. Three loaded questions, haha. Anybody with insight on this, or even just your opinion, pleeeeeeease weigh in. It’s not like I’m not happy with how things are right now, I just feel like I need something bigger to work towards. My weight is getting under control. My life? That’s the next work-to-be-in-progress.

Ok, just one last teensyweensy thing:

If you lovely, lovely readers wouldn’t mind nominating Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen! for the Women’s Health Magazine Blogs We Love 2011, contest that would be amaaaaaazing!! Click here and I’ll love you forever (well, let’s be honest, I would love you anyway.) 🙂


  1. Girl I am on the exact same page as you. I am in a job that i like, but its definitely not something i can see myself doing for longer than a year. The scary part is, i want to become a yoga teacher and open up my own studio but i have NO idea how im going to get there. how am i supposed to get the sort of money to open my own place??! you are not alone in your fear, everyone questions what on earth they are here to do. what has helped me substantially is just have faith that everything happens for a reason. life will take you on the right path. just take it one day at a time, breathe, and remember to keep an open heart. opportunities will open up and before you know it, you will be doing exactly what you want.xx

  2. I myself am in a similar, but somewhat different boat (what an oxymoron).
    I know exactly what I want to do and I strive to get there every day. But why on why did I choose a field that is so bloody hard to have a career in?! It often feels like a battle to try and sustain a living and making a name for myself. I often work so hard for very little reward… and the chances of having a successful career (in my chosen industry) are miniscule.
    So don’t worry your pretty little head. Even the people who know what they want to do in life are freaking out.

  3. Hi Gretchen! I stumbled upon your blog today after reading “Losing Weight in the City” and I’m sure glad I did! 🙂 For starters, it’s a huge relief to hear someone else verbalize (in black and white mind you) exactly what I’ve been thinking and feeling for the last 3 years. I’m also from the DC Metro area and have been living and working here for the last 4.5 years. I’ve been ready to move on to another job, another city, another way of life since 3.5 years ago. My reasons for still being stuck here are long, whiny and complicated. Still, you said it so well – I have no direction at all. I wish I had the answers but if I did I probably would be giving you a post with some helpful been there-done that advice. Sorry to disappoint! Anyhow, good luck in your quest in figuring out your purpose.. and if you find out the secret before I do, please share it! 🙂

    • Hi Hilary,

      Thanks so much for your comment — it helps immensely just to hear that I’m not alone in this. And incidentally, it’s great to hear from a fellow DC area-er, too! Hopefully we can both figure out where we want to head at some point… at least we’re in it together! 🙂

  4. Hey Gretch-o! I have to say I love your blog. I feel like I’m keeping up with you even though I have not seen you in what seems to be forever! I have to say that pursuing what I love has been amazing. The first step is definitely the hardest but I’m loving it. I’m dirt poor, living in the middle of nowhere, and have no idea if I’ll ever be able to sustain myself as an artist/potter but I love what I’m doing. Money is definitely nice to have and it would be good to find out if you like what you might spend a ton of money on. Have you thought about reaching out to people in those fields you are interested in and seeing if you could shadow them for a day or at least talk to them about the realities of the field? Hope this helps and don’t stress too much, you’ll figure it out eventually.

    • That’s a really great idea, Suzy! I may have to consider doing a little more personal research on people already in the fields I’m interested in. And in general it just helps to hear from you that even though it hasn’t been easy for you, you’re happy having pursued your passion. Once I figure out what my passion is, I hope I can do the same, hahaha. 🙂

      I’m glad that my blog can help you keep updated on the excitement of my life, hahaha. Let me know when you’re going to be in town next — I miss you!!

  5. The thing is, you’ll never know if something’s right for you until you’ve tried it. No doubt, there will always be that that uncertainty.

    I was a communications major myself and I took on a job over the summer for the local news. 6 weeks into it that I realized, i was miserable and could not carry on any longer. I found it to be rather stressful and it wasn’t the task at hand but the people around me. Anyhow, what I’m getting at is that if it wasn’t for that experience (and for previous job experiences) I wouldn’t know what I really want to do in life. It’s now so much more clear to me now that I know what I like, what I don’t…you will find out too and you will be passionate about it. If an opportunity comes your way what have you to lose?

    • Thanks K, I think you may be right. I guess all of life is just one big process of elimination, and I had a very similar experience with the journalism industry after doing an internship while in college – I thought it was what I wanted to do, but it turned out not to be. I guess that’s why I am so indecisive now though – all throughout college I took internships in various areas trying to figure out what I wanted to do, and I didn’t end up wanting to do any of them! I think maybe I’m scared that the same thing will happen again, only I’ll be much more invested (literally) this time. But that kinda sounds like whining, doesn’t it? Hahaha, maybe I really do just need to take the leap!

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