I graduated from uni and stayed in my alma matter for 2 years as an employee. Like many recent grads, who start their careers, I entered happily into a so-called corporate world, or in other words, the world of professionalism.
Like many recent grads, who start their careers, I was happy to enter the real life. To use all the learned skills such as public speaking, creative and critical thinking to solve real problems. And then it hit. I was poorly paid. It was boring. There was not much future prospects. Yet, it was stable.
Not to discredit the experience completely, there were lots of great things about it: fantastic colleagues, lots of social and academic events, lots of spare time on hands (in comparison to student’s life). But that’s about it. Extremely under-challenged and very poorly paid. (Surprisingly, my two uni friends who stayed to work in the same place, also in entry-level positions, somehow were paid at least 20% more. I could not understand it. At first, I thought that my position was on a lower responsibility scale, but then, when my workload kept increasing and compensation did not I just felt used and unhappy.)
Money aside, I remember so many mornings walking to work and thinking ‘is there more to life than this’. All of the tasks were repetitive and no-brainers. So I started looking for new opportunities. Eventually, I got invited to an interview in a city of my dreams to a job of my dreams – travelling the world as a tour guide. I nailed the interview and I started the prep.
I quit my job (with tears for leaving an awesome community) and then it started. I felt flat on my face. Stressed out, disbalanced, crushed. A long recovery. It took me at least 2 months to feel normal again. I think my hormones were imbalanced and my body could not produce serotonin because of the prolonged time under extreme stress conditions. Eventually, I got back on my feet for a new challenge. This time was better, very different and way less stressful than the first one and accompanied by lots of learning. After it, a quiet, almost boring period again. Then, another challenge, this time infused strongly with joy + fantastic friendships. A peaceful period. Stress and adjustments again.
The moment I left my secure office (or desk more precisely), I crossed the borders 15 times. I lived on 2 continents. I was paid almost 10 more. I was unemployed and stressed out equally 10 times more. I was constantly challenged and reminded of how naive I was. I saw places and met people I have never thought I could meet. It gifted me with friendships in the most unusual places, yet, striped of my long-established friends and a safety net.
If anyone asked me if they should follow my path, I would not really know what to say. This rollercoaster of experiences allowed me to see, taste and live in places I have not dared to dream of. It often humbled me and made me realise how much I actually have had, and how much I did not know. It broke me and stripped away of the most precious friendships. Yet, it gave me eyes to see the world in a different way and walk alongside those I would have never thought I would be walking.