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Podcast Episode 009: "I've Given Up On My Dream Career. Where Do I Go From Here?"

Episode 009: “I’ve Given up on My Dream Career. Where Do I Go From Here?”



Today we answer a letter from Patreon Donor Julia, who feels lost after making a big change of direction in her life.

Today’s question

“I’m twenty-one years old and I was in college majoring in biology, but I was just miserable and had to leave. But all I ever wanted to do was science, and now I’m really struggling with what to do next. I was paying for classes as I went (as much as I could, anyway) so I only have one loan to pay off. But I just really don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’ve worked in retail and foodservice and I hated it. I’ve been applying to daycare centers because I like kids, but I haven’t heard back from any of them. Any advice you could give me on finding a direction would be very much appreciated.”

This question made our hearts heavy. We hate to see a twenty-one-year-old sounding so lost and resigned. Because twenty-one is so young! You’re an adult when you’re twenty-one, but like, it’s the toddler stage of adulthood. The world won’t always feel so intimidating and impenetrable.

Our Boomer parents would certainly tell her to fOlLoW hEr DrEaM, dAmN tHe CoNsEqUeNcEs. But obviously we have to bring a more nuanced answer than that.

Allow us to remind all of our young listeners that…

  • Cs are passing grades. They are enough. Let yourself step down off the hamster wheel of your own demanding expectations.
  • College curricula can be more challenging than the “real world” career you’re preparing you for.
  • Piggy and I graduated from college ten years ago, and in the last decade, the number of employers who have expressed a desire to know our letter grades in college is absolute zero—a thermodynamic state once thought to be merely theoretical! SCIENCE!
  • Some careers are challenging to pursue because they’re vanishingly rare and impossibly glamorous: professional video game player, A-list film actor, high-end vibrator tester, etc. But other careers are challenging to pursue because they require a lot of intelligence, persistence, and education: biologist, surgeon, high-end vibrator engineer. Shake the former, push the latter.
  • STEM fields will remain overwhelmingly male so long as women and nonbinary folks lack mentors and programs to help them through the doubt.
  • Sometimes you wanna quit because you know yourself, and you’ve made a mature and informed decision about what’s best for you. Other times you wanna quit because you’re scared of failure, or scared of success, or unsure how to move forward. You will spend a lot of your young adulthood learning to spot the difference between the two.
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PEOPLE DIE OF EXPOSURE.

Stop Undervaluing Your Own Work, You Darling Fool

Like many Millennials, I’ve got multiple income streams. At my day job, I work for a salary that I negotiate upwards every so often. But as a side-hustlin’ freelance editor, I set my own rates and negotiate directly with individual clients for each new job.

This means I’m in a position of awesome power with every customer. Like Ursula the Sea Witch, I can name whatever price I like, and if the client wants both legs and a hunky prince, they’re going to have to give up their beautiful singing voice or THE DEAL’S OFF.

But what if the client can’t afford my price? What if they find my rates completely unreasonable and expensive compared with industry standards? What if they’re bargain hunting and willing to work with someone less qualified for a steeply discounted rate? What if they’re really nice and I feel uncharacteristically sorry for them?

What if instead of their beautiful singing voice, they’re only willing to part with the sound of their burps, the noise they make right before yakking up last night’s vodka tonic, their impression of Marlon Brando in The Godfather? What then?

When you set the price for your own work, there are innumerable reasons you might be tempted to lower it. This is a way of undervaluing your own work, and trust me my beauties, it is not worth it.

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