There’s a pretty good chance that your current job is unrelated to your college major. In fact, it might be the case that you don’t even have a steady job, to speak of, but make a living freelancing or contracting. In our current gig economy, it’s perfectly acceptable to work for yourself via a service, such as Uber or Airbnb. The income from these gigs covers the bills, while you freelance on your passion projects.
Finding my non-career path
I was convinced at 13 I’d be a psychiatrist. We won’t speak of my weirdo pre-teen brain formulating an odd profession like psychiatry as a goal while others planned their Hollywood careers. But I spent the next eight years of my life researching and taking classes that would make my dream a reality. It turns out, medical school wasn’t in my future. As much as I still love psychology and the human brain, my path took me down more creative alleys.
Instead of continuing pre-med, I signed on with an NYC-based casting director’s agency and worked as a model before finding a job in IT. Yes. In an actual IT department. From psychiatrist to model to Dilbert in a heartbeat. And all this time I was convinced I should be following a specific career path. A friend told me I’d make an excellent foreign service officer, so I spent a year studying for the exam and reading every single weekly Economist. Next year, I did project management for a large music royalty company. Then, I started a cookie business and got a little distribution network going in NYC-bodegas. Finally, I went back to my primary industry, fashion, and started blogging. That turned out to be my expertise.
The Benefits of Not Having a Standard Career
Does it bother me that when someone asks what I do winds me up with a mish-mosh of a little bit of everything? Not at all. We’re not in the ’50s anymore, meaning that we don’t have one mechanical job we will do our entire life. Unless you’re working in a specialized profession like medicine or law, your job will contain many moving parts. Having multiple skills under the belt means FREEDOM. You can create a life you want.
My line of work typically gives me the chance to work from home in my pajamas with occasional events where I get to dress up and mingle. I interact with my coworkers via emails, texts, and phone calls. And while my work-life balance boundaries are much harder to identify, I have the flexibility of doing what I please with my day.
So what does all this mean? It means you’re essentially an entrepreneur in your own right. You’re creating your structure. If you’re not disciplined or organized, this path might not be for you. I thrive in organizing my days and establishing routines and systems. If you’re not good with that, it might be a better choice to find something more structured in a different environment.
In either case, if you’re in your late 20s, 30s or even 40s, without a standard career, it’s time to rethink the definition. You can carve your own path without sacrificing your income.