I have never known what I wanted to do with my life.
Just ask my parents –– I swore I would be a brain surgeon, a musician, I’d live in a van down by the river. My eighth grade bio teacher had me convinced that I should sell medicinal marijuana. I’ve pursued music therapy, psychology, communication, journalism. I spent $40,000 to attend a private university without ever declaring a major. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I realized what I want for my future.
I want to be my own boss.
I don’t mean I’m going to start a business, or profit off pyramid schemes selling flat tummy tea. I strive to do more than oversee a small staff or scale the managerial ranks of retail.
Being your own boss is a mindset, as corny as it sounds. It’s one I’ve learned about in entrepreneurship classes, but it’s one I’ve seen first hand from being stepped on and looked over in educational, professional and social settings. It’s an aura that CEOs and white men everywhere emanate effortlessly. (That’s a joke.)
And I want to be the one to cancel meetings when my day is just too overwhelming.
I want to feel so empowered to ask people their credentials before allowing them to speak to me.
I want to have executive control over my schedule, my roles, and I want to have the final say in all the decisions I make.
(Yes, I’m being facetious. I’m not that much of an ass.)
Luckily, I have jobs that are (still paying me and) allowing me to have general control over my work. But these are temporary positions, and I’ll be working for the rest of my life.
And I know, “We get it, Jacklyn, you want to be bold and you have control issues. What’s new?” Lately I’ve just been feeling like everything is upside down, and I’m losing control. Places aren’t hiring writers. Actually, writers are getting fired pretty regularly right now, along with so many other non-essential employees. But even if places were hiring, I still wouldn’t know where I want to work or what I want to do.
In my current “boss” role, I’m on top of things. I know what needs to be done, how to do it, and who to assign the job. I know my staff’s strengths and weaknesses, and I know how to manage my own and my staff’s deadlines.
Still, when it comes to taking charge of my career, it’s like I’m new here. I fumble through objectives, I miss deadlines, I’m unfamiliar with the terrain of this office space.
So I procrastinate and focus on things outside of my future, things outside of myself. I fulfill my current workload of tasks for other people, other jobs, and figure I’ll discover what lies in my future once it comes.
But that isn’t working for me anymore. I graduate this month and I’m less certain of my career path, my life path, than ever before.
The simultaneously reassuring and terrifying fact of the matter is that I’m not alone. Everyone experiences some sort of career-induced anxiety fresh out of school. I just always thought I could do anything, and that I’d have my life figured out by the time I graduated. In some aspects, I have, but in others I’m still blatantly negligent.
Maybe it’s because I’m part of the laziest generation yet (which, I’m considered, is how every new generation is seen). Maybe it’s because I’m spoiled. Maybe if I think hard enough I can find 753 other extrinsic factors that must have been the sole proprietors of my career path’s detriment thus far.
And I say all of this to say that I don’t even necessarily want to be someone else’s boss. I want to be part of a team, one that works together and cares about the work they do, where everyone has a stake in the organization. I want to work for a company that lets me decide what’s important and choose what topics to pursue. These involve working for someone else (so, specifically, not being anyone’s boss) but I think finding these possibilities starts with being my own.
It means taking control of my life, and taking responsibility for where I’ve ended up. It also means that I need to figure out what I want to do in the next six months.
If I’m my own boss, that means it’s my job to make sure business is in order, that everyone (read: every part of my brain) is on board and working toward shared goals. As the boss –– of myself –– I have to fight for my business and prioritize my ambitions.
So basically, I need to get my act together. Because that’s the boss’ job.
With love and ambition,