I had two very different conversations today on two different mediums. One was with someone who is just starting his career and trying to figure out the right path, the other was with a former colleague who has moved onward and upward. Talking to one about the other, talking about our career paths and where I’ve been got me thinking.
I’ve worked really hard.
I don’t spend time thinking about it. I worry more about the future than thinking of the past, but talking to my friend about the whole ‘start from the bottom, work your way up’ thing I realized that I did.
I didn’t just start from the bottom, I restarted from the bottom three times. I thought I had the answers three times and ended up flailing. Seriously flailing – like moving home from Toronto two days after I left to start university there flailing.
And then I found a job and fought my depression and changed my plans. I spent two years doing great at college, convinced I actually had all the answers now, this time. Graduated, went out into the world and flailed again. Journalism is a tough career path that demands a lot of time and energy and doesn’t pay well. I loved it, but I was far away from home and being pushed hard and eventually I cracked.
And so I started again, and that was the time.
My friend asked me tonight, as I explained to him the many times I struggled to kickstart my career, if I would change anything along the way.
I was 23 and I decided to take the degree program with the most courses that sounding interesting, because planning my degree around whatever career would result wasn’t working. I ended up back at Carleton, where I still had three years left of free tuition thanks to my father’s professorial career. There was a job opening at the student paper which I was well qualified for, given my diploma in journalism. The man who interviewed me then is currently asleep beside me.
During my BA an opportunity came along to work some volunteer hours with an MP and I jumped.
The combination of that volunteer experience, my background in journalism and my understanding of politics made me the best candidate for a 8-week contract that turned into a four-year career and one of the best experiences of my life.
If I hadn’t balked at going to Toronto, if I hadn’t chosen journalism, if I hadn’t taken that job in Northwestern Ontario that pushed me to switch things up again, if I hadn’t chosen to use my three years of free tuition to just go and get my BA. I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t have a great resume, I wouldn’t have my husband and my daughter and my dog.
If I had changed any of those bumps in the road I wouldn’t be here.
And all the way through I worked hard. Even doing the shittiest parts of the shittiest jobs I worked hard. Even when I hated everything about my job at the Fort Frances Times the thing I hated most was that I knew I wasn’t doing a good job, so I kept working harder. Even when I got my first job out of university with the terrible boss who tore my confidence to shreds I worked hard trying to figure out what I could do better.
At every step, even when it wasn’t quite right, even when I wasn’t quite right, I have worked hard. Since my first job when I realized that I love to work – I really do, and I’m not afraid to work hard. In fact I, apparently, tend to forget how hard a job was when it’s over. Like that one time I worked an election campaign while doing my Masters and working two other contracts.
So when I actually sit back and think I can remember a little bit about how hard it all was. Emotionally hard, physically hard sometimes. But here I am. About to finish my Masters, in control of my own destiny, a great education, a great CV with great experience.
And the knowledge that bumps in the road can lead to the best things.