Tuesday, 6 January 2015

The Luxury of Not Knowing Where Life is Taking You


I've been meaning to write a post like this for a while now. Mostly because I keep leaving long and rambly comments on the subject on other people's posts so I thought it probably makes more sense to just write my thoughts here! It's a long one, but stick with me...

I'm not sure what exactly triggered it off, but a while ago there was a spate of blog posts all along the same kind of lines of how it felt to not know where life was going. Many of them written by young women about my age, recently graduated from university or starting to outgrow their first jobs. All of them felt daunted about the prospect of entering the big wide world without really having any idea of what they wanted to do with their lives. They all knew that there are any number of possibilities for careers out there but hadn't yet set their heart on one, or even felt some kind of inkling about which direction they'd actually like to take. They also said that they felt pressured to make the right decision now and get working towards securing a dream job. I'm sure there are many, many more of you who will think this sounds familiar. 

Now almost every single one of these blog posts finished positively, concluding somewhere along the lines of regarding this as their time of freedom to really explore life and its opportunities, feeling optimistic that the right career will come along in time and realising that actually it's pretty normal to feel like this. I admire this attitude and made sure I said so every time I commented on one of these posts.

I wanted to write though from the perspective of someone on the other side. Someone who, give or take a few details, has a career path planned out ahead of me for, well, ever. It is however very much a case of the grass being greener on the other side. 

I'll quickly explain where my life is headed right now in case you're new round here. I'm 21 and in my fourth year of university studying medicine. I'm confident I made the right choice because I love the course most of the time and genuinely really enjoy what I do. I've got another year of university before I graduate, aged 23, ready to begin my proper adult working life. From there I'll start work as a junior doctor somewhere in the country and complete two foundation years, rotating through different areas of medicine. That takes me to 25. Then I'll start a training pathway to specialise in whichever area has taken my fancy (assuming I get onto that particular pathway). For the sake of things, let's say I still stick with my current interest- pyschiatry. That's a six year programme. Once that's finished, I can apply for consultant jobs. Assuming I haven't taken any years out along the way, that's me aged 31. That's the next ten years of my working life roughly planned out for me.

Like I said, I love what I do. Medicine excites me and apart from the odd bad day, I know it is definitely the career that I want to follow right now. And I do try to appreciate the fact that, assuming I pass my exams and nothing catastrophic happens to the whole system, I have a lot of security with this plan. I know where I'm going with it for the next ten years and more. So why have I entitled this post 'The Luxury of Not Knowing Where Life is Taking You'?

Because actually, sometimes I long to be in the position of everyone who doesn't know where they're going. The world seems so much more open for them. I don't always want to know what the future holds, I'd love to be excited by the thought that my life could go almost anywhere! I'd love to experience the ability to decide that something wasn't working, go in a new direction and not compromise the end goal. I'd love to take a few detours off the beaten track, discover things I didn't even know existed, create new things. It can be scary having your life planned out so far in advance and just as pressurised. What if I want to travel, get married, buy a house? Obviously these things do fit in, but do I really want to be able to figure out the best timing for them years and years in advance? It's not the strongest of analogies, but it's a little bit like being told your future by a fortune teller and then simply just waiting for it all to happen. I already know about exams I won't have to sit for another four years or so - now who wants that?!

All in all, it is probably like I've already said - a case of the grass always being greener on the other side of the fence. But sometimes it's nice to hear from someone on the other side point out what's so good about yours. And I'm saying that sometimes a deal of uncertainty isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Jennifer
xXx


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12 comments

  1. I'm in the same boat as you but to be honest I dislike uncertainty so I don't mind this scenario. Well, I actually have no idea what I want to specialise in so I don't know where I'll be in 10 years, but I'm personally glad that there's some sort of scaffolding I can follow!

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    1. Yes, I am glad to know roughly how training will work- it definitely makes things less scary. Most of the time I love that I have a path to follow- it's just every now and again when I see someone doing something more exciting I get a bit jealous!

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  2. As someone who has been firmly on the other side for years and only recently come to accept it this was so interesting. I'd really never considered how it could be difficult following such a set career path but I can definitely sees the cons to both ideas now. I think it's so great you have something you're passionate about and can make a living from though, medicine must be crazy hard work but very few people get to care so much about their job and I expect its super rewarding too :)

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    1. I'm glad it got you thinking :) Medicine is hard work, but as you said it's also really rewarding and I feel really lucky to have found something I enjoy so much :)

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  3. I love that this post is written from a different perspective to one I wrote a while back in 2014! I never really had a set career in mind until late last year, and I envied those who did. I think everyone gets 'grass is greener' syndrome once in a while - in the end, I think you know if what you're doing is right and it sounds like you're really passionate about your career :)

    Milly // Mini Adventures

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    1. I hadn't seen something written from this point of view, so I thought why not?! I think you're right- it's all up to individuals and how you feel. So long as you end up where you want to be, will it matter whether you knew that all along? Thanks for your comment! :)

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  4. Interesting thoughts. I graduated university & it was uncertain indeed. I ended up going down another career path entirely. There are some things I wish I'd known, but not knowing where life will take you is part of the journey. Enjoy 2015.
    :] // ▲ itsCarmen.com ▲

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    1. I imagine it can be really hard as a new graduate to decide which way to go if you haven't already decided on something. I bet you still got good experience from a different career path. There's still a lot of my life that I don't know where it will take me and that's definitely not a problem for me right now! :)

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  5. I completely understand where you are coming from. I have wanted to be in the forensic science field since I was in middle school. I got my bachelor's degree last spring and now I'm in graduate school getting a more specialized degree. I always envied the people who went into college and were an "undecided" major. Like you said, that freedom must be nice. Ultimately, I'm glad I found my career path. I'm sure there will be some twists and turns, but it's comforting to know an end goal is in sight.

    xo, Rachel
    babblingloon.blogspot.com

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    1. It's lovely to hear from someone in the same kind of situation. Also, I've always thought forensic science sounded really interesting so I hope it's all going well for you! I am glad I've found a path and have an end goal because it makes the work I put in feel relevant and useful.

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  7. This is such a good post Jenny! Been looking through your archives, love your blog :)
    Kate xxx
    The Medic Journal

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