In this age, I think there's a lot more of us "lost souls" trying to figure out what we want to do. If someone said to me tomorrow, here's all the money you need to go back to school, I wouldn't have any idea what I'd take, let alone where to start! And yet going back to school is my dream! Go figure. I think the biggest reason I want to go back to school is to say I have more than a highschool education. I hate being 30 and still only having my highschool. I just thank God for the job in my dad's law firm. It makes life more comfortable than it would be if I was slugging away in retail or the "food" industry, as many "young mommies" often end up doing.
Anyways, I wouldn't beat yourself up for not knowing what you want to do with your life. At 18/19, we're pushed straight out of highschool and forced to pick something that will define us for probably the next 10-15 years at least. For some, they're lucky and get what they want, figure it out the first time around. Most of us often discover it wasn't what we wanted at all and are extremely unhappy in our jobs. Unfortunately, most of us at this point are also getting married and starting families which makes changing career paths even more difficult (particularly the kids part - that's one of my problems!) The bottom line is you are not alone. You may feel like it some days, but I guarantee there are a lot more of us out there than you might think, and we probably out number the ones who are really happy and completely fulfilled in their chosen life/career paths. I have a friend who is on the verge of getting her phd and while it's what she really wants, she's frustrated with how much she's had to give up personally to achieve it. So everybody has crosses to bear, even the ones who are where they want to be career wise.
And I think having the "perfect life" or the perception of it, has become a "social stigma". Why else would Martha Stewart be so popular? People want to be perfect. We strive for perfection and often confuse perfection with happiness. At any point in one's life, there's something that needs attention or working on. We are always a work in progress, evolving, ever changing. Perfection is impossible. And we drive ourselves crazy trying to achieve it. I think it's part of the reason stress and depression are increasingly becoming more prevalent in our society. Who can possibly keep up with the Jones and the Stewarts? And woman are worse in this respect than men usually. I want the table set properly, my husband is happy if everything is on the table. There must be a happy medium in life?! But first we have to stop beating ourselves up when our paths take us somewhere we hadn't planned on, deviating from our perception of that "perfect life". Sometimes those paths lead to surprising places we couldn't have foreseen if we planned it out perfectly ourselves! And often we are so busy grieving the path we've lost, to see the gifts we've received. I know that I should be grateful for everything. I have a husband. Two beautiful kids. A house (yes I have a sign for my kitchen that says "A messy kitchen is a happy kitchen... and this kitchen is delirious". That sign would apply to most of my house actually.) I have a good job, even if I don't like it. I have a loving extended family, and a couple of really good friends I know I can count on. Why am I depressed? Because at times all I can focus on is everything I've lost over the years, opportunities I wasn't able to follow for whatever reason, that my life doesn't fit with the perception of what it should be or that elusive quality called "perfection". Obviously there is more to it than that, that's where the biological factor takes over, but nonetheless the fact remains that if the world in general could lower their standards even just a little bit, stress levels would drop and everyone would likely be a little happier. But everyone has to be the best. Our worth is often assessed by what we have, instead of what really matters. And we also tend to create false perceptions of "perfection" too. Lowering standards so even the kids who are struggling pass to the next class. Everyone has to be equally "perfect". It's absolutely ridiculous.....
I think you need to look at yourself and assess yourself honestly and not based on society's "ideals". You are young. You have lots of time ahead of you to go back to school, to figure things out. I wouldn't worry if you don't have all the answers now. If we did, life would be pretty boring! Finances are always a hurdle but set yourself goals, and a strict budget and you'll be back on track before you know it. And another thing, as far as career paths go - I think it's estimated that most people of our generation will switch careers at least 3 times, or something like that. It might even be more than that. So don't feel bad about not figuring it out the first time around. You are not alone and you're young enough to try again. And I'm sure there's lessons you've learned along the way that will help you out next time around.
Anyways, I apologize for this long ramble and social commentary - you may or may not agree with! I just get so frustrated with the perceptions of the world at times. If I could strip life back to the basics I would. I hate knick knacks. I keep only what I need, with a few exceptions; my writing, my photos and special books. (Then there's the arts and crafts stuff I collect in the hopes of having my own business some day... but that's another story!) I wish I could purge away half the stuff in this house, but most of it belongs to my husband so I can't... And he's a packrat. He's gotten better but I'm still working on him. And he loves figurines and models and all that stuff. I call them dust collectors! There isn't room for that stuff in our little 3 bedroom condo and things aren't the collectors items they used to be. When my husband and I got married and moved into this house, he brought 6-7 boxes of his old toys with him!!!! I finally convinced him about a year and a half ago to give a lot of it to our son. But there's still a few boxes back there... I find it claustrophobic and overwhelming, but he doesn't get it so getting him to purge is difficult. After nearly 9 years of marriage, he's better than he used to be. But I still have empty pop bottles sitting around this house that he considers souvenirs... I'd get rid of them in a heartbeat if I could. It's the thing I hate most about Christmas - more stuff to find places for!
Anyways, I've really gone off on a rant! Forgive me! All this to say, you are not alone in not being happy with your first career path. Many people aren't. So now that you've had some experience, and probably have a little better idea of what you do want/like (or better yet, what you don't), figure out a way to go for it and stick to your plan. It's not to say everything will always happen the way you want and that there won't be difficult patches or down moments, those are just part of life. But as the saying goes "when a door is closed, a window is openned", or something along that line! So think of this as a door closing on one part of your life and a window opening on the next, and try to enjoy and embrace the sunshine and the breeze coming in the window!
I know, easier said than done!!!!! Story of my life....
Take care, slowlygoingcrazy.