Why Patience Really Is a Virtue
It’s funny what a year can do. This time last year Barack Obama was still leading the free world, North Korea was still best-known for being the country that inspired the Kim Jong Il puppet in Team America and just over a year ago we weren’t sticking two fingers up at the landmass across the Channel. It’s fair to say that 2016 was an absolute smorgasbord of bollocks and some aspects of 2017 seem to be following suit in terms of the global political and socioeconomic landscape. For me personally, however, the last twelve months have been the complete opposite. This time last year I had just finished my bereavement counselling programme, had just quit my job and put my life in London on hold to move back in with my mum in Ascot. Twelve short months later and I’m moving back into a flat in Barnes, have lost nearly a stone in weight and am gearing up to study music production with a view of getting into the music industry. At a festival last year, I sat by the Glastonbury sign on the East hill to reflect and felt, in all honesty, a bit bleak – this year I did the same and found myself grinning into my cider. It took time, but the difference a year has made is immeasurable and it’s made me realise the importance of something that is often overlooked today – patience.
The fact of the matter is that we twenty-somethings are all under immense pressure to go straight into the office-based, high-powered and highly-paid lifestyle that some of our more “successful” peers go into. For whatever reason, the vast majority of us never really stop to think about what it is that we actually want to do and barrel headfirst into the world of work to get some much-needed experience under our belts. Even for me, it took something as harrowing as my Dad passing away for me to actually take the time to stop and think about what direction I actually wanted to be heading in and how underwhelming I was finding my career to date. My original plan was to write a book upon getting back to Ascot – a nice idea that may well materialise one day, but still something that I realised wasn’t quite right timing-wise. Even this music production course may not materialise into quite what I want it to be (though I do desperately hope it does, of course).
My point is this – we are still young. We may have adulthood thrust upon us and may be expected to hit the ground running but the reality is that there is absolutely no shame in admitting that you don’t know what you want to do or that you’re unhappy with what you’re doing. Our twenties are the years where we’re equipped with more self-awareness and maturity than our teenage or student years but we still don’t have any real career-experience (temping at your uncle’s law firm as a glorified coffee servant when you were 16 doesn’t count). With that lack of experience, comes a lack of self-confidence, but it’s high time this changed. There should be more encouragement to have the courage to quit your job, even if those around you seem to be pretty content – listen to what you’re feeling and do something about it. Yes, experience is always a benefit to any career-path but what good is building experience for a career you don’t even want? I would argue that if you’re uncertain about where you want to go, getting varied experience across multiple industries will only stand you in good stead for figuring out what you want to do, even if it’s only by eliminating those things you don’t enjoy.
It all boils down to how you define career-based impatience and patience. If you’re thinking about quitting your job, you may quickly find that those around you tell you to stop being so impatient – “Stick with it for a few more months, things may change or you may get a promotion and everything will get better.” No, it most likely won’t. I believe that sticking with the first job you take after university is actually impatient, unless you’re one of the lucky ones who loves what they do straight off the bat. You’ve been impatient to get started in the world of work without knowing what it is you want to do. You’re being impatient to expect change within the framework of your current job without taking the time to explore your options. You’re being impatient to expect success without thinking about what you really define success to be – is success really getting a promotion or salary increase in the industry you don’t enjoy?
Be patient. Don’t expect to fall in love with the first job you fall into. Don’t expect plan A to work (and don’t expect plan B to work either). Don’t expect it to be easy to find something you love. Just don’t forget that you have time. It’s definitely worth your while to identify a fall-back option to start thinking about when you’re close to turning 30, but before then go out and get as much experience as possible. If so much can change for me in one year, who knows what could happen to you?