A Career is Not Always a Straight Line

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Non-linear thinking can open new and interesting doors.

Even after I got my college degree, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life, and I know for a fact that that’s a very common feeling. I could’ve put my all into searching for careers relevant to my field, but I was still young, and felt like I didn’t understand the world very well. So, I worked in a grocery store for a year. It might sound strange, and it certainly wasn’t the most pleasant of experiences, but at same time, I don’t regret it. Working retail, soul-crushing as it can be, teaches you a lot about people and yourself, and it definitely helped me become more of a complete person, which was beneficial when the time came to find a relevant job.

A career is not a straight line, or at least it doesn’t necessarily have to be. The assumption is that you start at the bottom rung and work your way up exclusively through positions relevant to your skillset. But while it is good to stay in your lane, stepping outside that comfort zone can greatly expand your personal horizons, professional horizons, or both. There’s also the matter of, y’know, paying the bills; sometimes, you can’t find relevant work in a timely fashion, so you just gotta grab whatever puts bread on the table.

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A friend of mine has an art degree, and she is quite the skilled artist. But while she develops her skills in private, she currently works two jobs, one at the front desk of a tennis club, and the other caring for an elderly woman. Obviously, neither of those has anything to do with art, and I don’t know precisely what’s in her future, but I think that when she finally finds an art-related calling, she’ll find that some of the little skills she gathered in these other positions will come in handy.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t feel obligated to stay on a single career path your entire life. Try different things, learn different skills, and grow as a diverse, worldly person. When you finally return to your lane, you may find the journey a bit easier to navigate.

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