Why it will get better — Novum Opus
When I was in high school, I did not know what I wanted to do in life. Other people said I was a good writer, but I struggled to imagine myself doing it professionally. I worried that they were being polite, or grading me on a curve relative to my age.
In college, I stressed out about this even more. I wound up getting a Communication Studies degree because I had little interest in reading a bunch of old classics that an English degree would surely entail. I worked a bunch of crappy jobs and lived with a queasy feeling in my stomach that I was going to get out of college and amount to nothing. I would get paid a bit more because I could work more hours, but not enough to justify the student loans. Not enough to start a family. Not enough to have a life of my choosing. Not enough to be free.
During college, I encountered a YouTube video by a guy in his late twenties said in a YouTube video that I would figure it out and everything was going to be okay. I could not fathom where his confidence stemmed from. How could that possibly be a certainty? I had had so little control over my life up to that point. What would change that would make it okay?
Then I finished college, and a string of seismic shifts occurred in my life.
First, without college in the way, adulting became easier. I could devote my full attention to my career, and I could change it if it sucked. No teacher could tell me no, no boss could stop me, no parents were there to guide me down a path, right or wrong. I got a promotion. Then I left that company for a job that paid better than the promotion paid. Admittedly, when it comes to my career I am something of a self-starter, but I think this is likely a thing that happens for a lot of people. The jobs I worked had little to do with my degree (I suppose phone stores specialize in “communications” in a sense, but that’s pushing it), but they started to pay better through a sheer lack of tolerance for bullshit on my part.
Second, I got in a serious relationship. I had just been in a bad one, and so had she. We had learned how bad relationships can be with the wrong person, and so we appreciated each other’s support. This pushed me to want to support what would become my family, where I may otherwise have accepted lower standards to provide for myself.
Third, I got tired. I got tired of working lousy, entry-level food and retail jobs. I knew I could do better, but I also knew I had to prove it for any company to believe it. I started learning to code at an online bootcamp and got a job as a software developer.
The pieces started falling into place. The bad relationships had taught me how to be a part of and maintain a good one; the bad jobs made me appreciate the career I built once I had it; and in spite of the pivot into software, the skills I had accrued as a writer have continued to be valuable in my personal and professional life.
What the guy in that YouTube video was saying to me, and what I’m saying to you if you cannot figure out how to fit the puzzle pieces together in your life, is that things are going to work out because you will make it so. You will refuse to let your life suck. You won’t allow yourself to dwell in your misery. The very fact you’re reading this post tells me that you already have that grit in you.
Sure, you could continue to complain about how much you hate your job, how annoying your significant other is, how much you hate your parents, or how much you hate where you live.
But you won’t.
You will get fed up and start putting the pieces together. You will start solving the problems instead of shaking your fist at the sky: you will learn skills that will get you better-paying jobs, ditch the toxic relationships, save some money to move out of your living situation. Some skills you already have will come into play. Some people you have already met will point you to the business contact you need. You will find that one person who really listens to you when you are upset and can talk you through your problems.
I do not believe in fate. I am not a religious person. But I do believe in people. I believe that you have agency over your life and can mold it to be whatever it is you want it to be. I believe that you can seize your dreams rather than letting them fade into fantasies. I believe that you can choose to be good, and that when you take care of yourself, you can more easily take care of others. I believe that being good to others is always the best move; humans are social beings, and leaving bridges unburned can present opportunities you would never expect.
Don’t give into cynicism. Don’t stop caring. Don’t give up, and life will absolutely, unequivocally get better.
Originally published at https://www.novumopus.com on March 3, 2020.