From the time you learn to talk, people instill in you the importance of a career and your future. As a small child, you are constantly asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and have an understanding of the good careers to strive for based on how people react to your responses. So I am sure you can all attest to the pressure that one feels to choose the right career and do something that not only you love but most importantly, guarantees success.
So I set out to do just that. I made sure I went to the best college (Howard University) to get the best education and to secure my future and career. Then, I decided to pursue a degree in Psychology so I could become a child psychologist. I believed it would be a great career which would bring me success and happiness helping children. But I was 17 when I went to college and I wasn’t sure of who I was let alone what I wanted to be. I worked hard through school, graduated at 21 (still barely an adult), and now all of a sudden it was time to start my life.
I worked in retail throughout college. However, working in retail was never the path I dreamed of. I always vowed to never be like my managers who had bachelor’s degrees, but were still working in retail. How did I end up just like them? I worked my way up from sales to key holder, to assistant manager, and finally to store manager. I was chasing the money early having graduated from college making twice that of my peers. My job was enjoyable and I was good at it. I had it all figured out. Although I enjoyed what I was doing, I wasn’t proud of it – at all. I would sometimes avoid being around my peers from college because I feared the dreaded question. “What do you do?” I would HATE that question. For some reason, I felt that my worth was determined by my title.
So now, 10 years later, I still struggle with what I want to do with the rest of my life. I have reevaluated what determines my self worth. Being success requires your own definition. My self-worth is determined by what I deem as success. I have decided to define success as being happy, doing the things that I truly enjoy, and having the ability to provide for myself and my family.
No longer am I ashamed by what I do because it provides me the ability to care for me and my family. But I am still searching for the career that brings me the ultimate “joy” and “success”. I will continue to follow my heart and trust in God to lead me to my purpose and not allow society’s views of success control my destination.
Surely, there are many of you out there who aren’t happy with your job, don’t have the job or career of your dreams, or don’t have the job title that you can be proud of. These are my reasons that I know my career doesn’t define me and hopefully you will feel the same.
- Success isn’t measured by job titles….. Focus on what makes you the most happy. What do you want to be known for once you’re gone? There is not one set answer to this question. Therefore, there can’t be one measure of success. Some people are more driven by being successful at work through constant promotions, raises, and accolades. Then there are others, like me, who find pure happiness in spending quality time with my kids, being available to go to school events, and being there to help them navigate through life. These are the things that I sometimes have to sacrifice and miss out on due to work. I know I am doing what is necessary but it doesn’t make me happy. So my overall goal is to find a path that allows me to earn money but still enjoy the fruits of my labor.
- Jobs are not permanent….. Nothing is permanent, including your career or job. Therefore if you are defined by them, who will you be if or when you are no longer in that career? What you do today can be taken away at any moment due to various reasons. It can be involuntary or because you no longer find passion or interest in what you do. You never know what curve balls life will throw at you.
- You won’t be remembered by your job, but the impact you made on others….. I want to help people to see the silver lining in tough situations. I want to be a source of motivation for my kids (especially my daughter) and other young girls struggling to find and accept who they are. And most importantly, I want to be remembered for the beautiful person that I am, both on the inside and the outside. Not for what I do for work. If you focus more on bettering ourselves in whatever aspect is important to you, the happier you will be.
Do you feel that your career defines you? Why or why not? Feel free to comment below.