Reflections on Life 4+ Years Out Of College


To be honest, last week was one of the more challenging weeks I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Filled with some extreme highs (including my one year work-anniversary. 🙂 ), as well as a few stressful lows, spread out over the first, full work week of 2014. Some of the lows I experienced this past week would be enough to send my younger-naive self of even just 2 years ago to go curl up in the fetal position in a tangled mess of fear, self-doubt and tears. Lots and lots of tears.

So, why am I telling you all of this? This past week made me confront and realize just how resilient I’m becoming in the face of fear, uncertainty and change.

In the last 4+ years, I can honestly say my resilience has been tested almost daily. I have battled down the depths of extreme uncertainty, self-doubt and fear on numerous occasions. Because of this, I can honestly say I have learned more about myself in the last 4+ years than in the first 21 years of my life combined.

Life in my 20s to date is nothing like what I envisioned it to look like when I was in high school, or heck even my senior year of college. In my head at the time, I had a rosy, extremely naive view that I was going to find a guy, get married by age 25 and find an awesome first job, move up the ranks and be there for 10+ years.

Now at 25 (well, almost 26), I am nowhere near what my high school vision was.

I’m still single and growing more jaded by all the unsolicited dick pics that I receive on OkCupid. I mean seriously, guys? But, I also know I am too young to give up on men entirely and surrender to a world of cats. Lots and lots of cats. So, somebody please make a better online dating experience.

As for my career to date, it resembles an emotional roller-coaster with some extreme highs and lows. My career started off on a serious low, with the misfortune of graduating college in the midst of the worst recession since The Great Depression. Add in the fact, that my parents were in the midst of a nasty divorce. I had my back up against the wall, always just one tiny step away from a major nervous breakdown at the tender age of 21. But, what can you do, some things – no matter how awful and traumatizing they may be at the time- are just simply out of your control.

After a couple of months of soul-searching about what I wanted to do for the next 40+ years, I finally landed that all elusive, first full-time social gig in a retirement beach community 2.5 hours from where I grew up, that I would later come to realize was nicknamed, “the Redneck Riviera.” It was an absolute disaster, filled with enough mistakes, stupid shit and my extreme naivety to fill an encyclopedia. If I were to be blatantly honest, my time living in the “Redneck Riviera” taught me more about what I didn’t want than anything else. More importantly, it was just the slap-in-the-face, wake-up call I needed to take ownership over my career trajectory and more importantly, my own personal happiness.

It led me to pack up everything I own, hop on a 2.5 hour plane ride and enter into the hustle and bustle of the city that never sleeps: NYC. There’s a saying that if you can make it in the Big Apple, you can make it anywhere. I honestly believe it. Living in NYC may seem glamorous on the TV screen (and it is, to some extent while living there), it also brings with it a lot of challenges. For instance, it was harder to secure a crappy, affordable* apartment in a location, where I wasn’t afraid of being shot when walking outside- than it was landing my then-job at a creative agency. Let’s just say, NYC apartment hunting is not for the faint of heart. Whether you navigate the minefield of fake and scammy apartment listings on Craigslist or go with an established, but expensive broker, either way is not without its challenges. I still cannot get over that I had to pay a broker a full month’s rent just to spend 30 minutes showing me an apartment- that let’s just say I settled with simply because it was in a good, safe location- and fill out a few forms.

But, I digress slightly. The two years I spent in NYC gave me the opportunity to work for a great company, develop some amazing lifelong personal and professional relationships and really start to hone my online community building chops. Without that, I would not be where I am today.

Not only do I now live in one of the coolest cities in the world, Austin, TX (What can I say, I’m a bit biased?), but I have a job that I’m batshit head over heels crazy about. I get to help people fuel their dreams and start and grow their own businesses. To think that I get to play even a minuscule part in that fuels my fire and lights up my world.

While I”m nowhere near the vision I had for myself in high school, I couldn’t be happier with where I am right here in this very moment.

Through all of the highs and lows, it forced me to grow up and mature really fast. It made me realize I am so much stronger than I ever thought I was capable of. And, I am truly excited for what the next four years and beyond will bring.

About the author

Jessica Malnik