When I was in my first year of law school, I wrote a post about how the first year after undergrad graduation is really hard. About a month ago, I watched as influencer Brooke Miccio quit her corporate job to become a full-time influencer after only four months in an office. As a viewer of her videos, I witnessed the steady decline of her mental health as she finished college and started working in a new city, only to realize she was lonely, not thriving in the office atmosphere, and feeling generally unhappy with her career. There is a lot of literature available about working a corporate job versus leaving to pursue a passion. At the Bad on Paper live show, there was a lot of talk about what someone should do before taking the leap out of one career and into another. Miccio received a lot of comments on her videos that said something along the lines of “you didn’t stay long enough! You should have given it six months!” She resisted the haters, saying she’s in a unique position to ride the influencer wave until it’s gone and that because she’s been working since high school, she has money saved in case it’s a flop. She also stressed the privileged position she holds, saying she understands not everyone can quit after four months.
We all go through seasons of life where we are unhappy with our current situation and wonder if there’s something better somewhere else. Its why people leave relationships, its why people leave jobs, its why people go to school or don’t, it’s why people who seemingly have it all give it up for something more exciting. The fact of the matter is that when we are transitioning from the summer to the fall of our lives, we struggle. The safety of the prior career or schooling feels familiar and needed and the changes feel scary and isolating. Should Miccio have stayed six months? The answer lies with her alone. She did what she felt was best, and as someone who is very cautious and crippled by the unknown, I give her kudos for chasing something she feels passionately about (not that she needs them). For those of us who enjoy what we do, we still struggle to adjust to new routines and new careers.
I was in school from preschool until age 24. That’s nearly my whole life. So, going to a full-time job, where my years are no longer counted by semesters, is an adjustment. I mentioned to someone recently that I’m having a little trouble being in one place for nine hours every day. Their response was, “you have it so good. Your work schedule is better than people at big law.” A pitfall of the “hustle and grind” mentality is that we erase room to make observations about transitions. When someone admits that a transition is harder than expected, people are quick to jump in and say, “it could be worse!” it results in a shaming that is both unnecessary and toxic. The more we allow space for people to be honest about how they’re feeling, without immediately telling them it’s whiney or ungrateful or ridiculous, the more we create better working and personal relationships and prevent inevitable burn out.
During my summer internship in DC, my days were packed. I knew there was not a full-time offer waiting for me at the end of July, so I hustled. I didn’t say no to things. I attended as many networking events as possible, I worked out three times a week, I showed up early to work and managed to read 12 books in 10 weeks. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it all. When we have no option but to hustle, I guess we can power through. Now, working nine-hour days, it’s hard to fit much else into my day. The thing is, I love my job. I love being at work, and I enjoy the work far more than I enjoyed studying for law school classes. However, having roughly 4 hours each day for “me time” is an adjustment. It’s hard because I’m an introvert and I crave alone time to rest and recharge. I hate feeling rushed or scrambled, but trying to fit in a work out, cooking meals, reading for pleasure, staying up to date on TV shows, talking to family, going out with friends … it’s hard. I don’t say this to complain. I just want to acknowledge that struggling to adjust to a new routine is okay. No one is perfect and very few people shift easily through live completely unphased by change. I’m giving myself grace at this time to figure out the routine that works well for me. I allow myself the snooze button once or twice if I need it. I skip the workout if I feel like it will only make me feel rushed in the evening. The routine will come, but for now, I am focusing on getting things under control one step at a time.
Right now, I’m focusing more heavily on meal prep. Prepping breakfast and lunches and enjoying Hello Fresh for dinners. I am slowly incorporating workouts. So far, I do Soul Cycle once a week. Partly because, logistically, that works best and partly because it’s very expensive. I signed up for a Pure Barre membership, which I hope to use much more in the coming weeks. When I can’t make a class happen for whatever reason, I’m going to try to use my building’s gym even if it’s a short workout.
There is a lot of discussion about “grind” and “hustle.” It’s all fine and good, but I wish there was more space for people to discuss what happens when that grind and hustle are difficult to accommodate. When I was finishing law school and my best friend was working full time for the first time, she kept saying things that I didn’t really understand. She’d say, “schedule time with people,” “make sure you don’t get stuck in monotony,” “if you feel stagnant even though you like your job, that’s okay.” Now I get what she meant. I’m living alone, so I have to be conscious about scheduling time with people. I also need alone time to recharge so I reserve time for that. I’m working on a tighter budget than I did in school, so I’m practicing saying no to events that cost money that I don’t 100% want to do.
There’s sometimes a mentality that we should have our dream job right away and be doing amazing things. This isn’t realistic and I think the issue is compounded by influencer culture at times. People edit the reality we see, so we see effortless, seemingly work-light lifestyles. Grace of Bad on Paper says she also has to explain how much work goes into her blog and how her life isn’t easy just because she runs a blog. Further, a lot of people don’t have the luxury to pull a Brooke Miccio and quit their job. She even received some same for “encouraging” that behavior. I don’t think she encouraged it, but I do think people will see that and go “dang, I wish I could do that.” I suppose Miccio’s decision only furthers the “I have to do my dream job right now” culture. Whether that’s good or bad has yet to be determined. What I do know is that the concept of going to work somewhere you don’t love and putting your time in for the sake of putting your time in is fading from our culture. People like movement and most refuse to do one job for the rest of their lives. However, everyone’s path is different, and some people want to stay in place while others do not. What I can say is this: I’m happy with where I am and am excited for the years to come. I am adjusting to a new routine, but that doesn’t mean I’m ungrateful or whiney when I acknowledge that this season of life is one of adjustment.