It’s Okay To Not Have It All Figured Out

At the beginning of November, for the first time ever, I had no idea what I was doing with my life.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve always had a plan. I’ve always known what was coming next. There was always a sense of safety in my routine.

It went like this: I would go to high school, then graduate from college, then easily get a job with my degree.

It’s actually a little silly thinking about it. A few weeks ago, I was thinking about how life is too easy. I had a job doing what I’d always wanted to do and I was living a stable life. Where were the hiccups everyone warned me about?

Little did I know, an upset was waiting for me just around the corner.

At the beginning of November, I quit my job. I was a high school English teacher. I had the job I had worked so hard for in college, the job I pined after for four long years. And I quit.

I quit, and now I feel angry at teaching. I feel betrayed by my passion. I feel completely and utterly lost.

Suddenly, I don’t quite know what I want to do anymore, and this revelation has left me shattered.

All I know is English and education. All I’m good at is reading and writing and teaching. What else am I supposed to do? What else can I do?

I struggled with these questions for weeks after leaving my job. I took career matching tests and applied for every job under the sun, hoping and praying that I might find answers.

While I didn’t find concrete answers to my questions, I did find solace after talking to my dad. In essence, he told me that it’s okay.

It’s okay to not have it all figured out.

It’s okay because you are still so young.

It’s okay because this is just the beginning of your journey.

It’s okay because you are asking the right questions.

It’s okay because you are learning valuable lessons.

It’s okay because this experience is helping your grow.

It’s okay because you are resilient.

It’s okay because someone with your talent and ambition will amount to something great.

It’s okay because this sort of adversity is what makes life richer.

I’m taking this time of unrest as a lesson in patience. The other day, I was making a cup of tea and the quote on the tag gave me a sense of comfort.

It said, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.”

With time, things will become clearer. With time, opportunities will unfold. With time, I will discover exactly where I am meant to be.

What steps do you take to get you through times of uncertainty? Have you ever thought about a career change?

To other English majors out there, I’d love to hear what you do.

  • On a career related note, have you ever looked into speech-language pathology? It would require another degree, but it totally incorporates reading and teaching. Just an idea! It’s what I’m in school for now after having changed careers myself, and I’m obsessed! So I’m always passing on the idea to others 🙂

    What you’re feeling is so normal, albeit frustrating and disheartening. I’m so sorry to hear about your job, but like you said, you’ll get through it with time. Also – absolutely love that quote about nature. It is so true.

    • Emily

      Thanks for the idea, Samantha! I’ve never considered that career path. I’ll have to look into it!

  • Yes, yes, yes. This is all so very true.

    I’m an English major and I’m a church office admin (which has absolutely nothing to do with my major) but I also get paid to create any written media…newsletters, blog posts, handouts, that sort of thing.

    • Emily

      That sounds fabulous! I’d love to find a job like that.

  • Hang in there! You’re dad is absolutely right – you don’t have to have it all figured out right now, and it’s a learning experience along the way. Embrace what you do have, and everything will fall into place.

    • Emily

      Thanks for the encouragement, Karly!

  • You will never regret leaving the way you did. I have left a job that brought me no joy before, and while it can be terrifying at times shortly after, you’ll be glad you did in the long run. Just remember that nobody really has it all figured out!

    • Emily

      While I have a lot of anxiety about my future since leaving, I feel so much more inner peace. Thanks for your words of encouragement, Emily!

  • So glad I came across this post, and your blog. THIS is relatable on so many levels. I majored in communications and media studies, and I graduated with a job that I thought I loved as well.. A year later I started to realize it wasn’t the right path for me, and just like you, I quit. I wasn’t challenged enough, and I wasn’t fulfilled. I had a very similar conversation with my own dad, and both of my parents have offered a lot of insight into what I really want. Luckily, I found the right path, atleast for now. I think we start out assuming that it must be simple; that we will always know what we want and who we are. So when it isn’t simple anymore, and money isn’t enough, it’s very scary.

    I love that quote, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Great reminder, and great post!

    • Emily

      Thanks, Amanda! I’m glad you feel like you’ve found the right path. I’m praying I find my path very soon!

  • your dad sounds like a wise man 🙂 life keeps hitting every one of us with unexpected challenges every step of the way all anyone can do in life is to just keep going and to try our best! Even if we do feel like we haven’t got a clue ha ha 🙂

    • Emily

      My dad is the best. I’m so lucky! I’m learning that most people never feel like they know what they’re doing. I guess we just have to keep on keeping on!

  • nic

    I totally agree. Sometimes we need these reminders!

    • Emily

      Thank you!

  • I love this. I felt completely lost and confused yesterday. I guess you do not need to have it all figured it out!

  • A wonderful reminder, and thank you for being brave enough to share your struggles with the world. Many of us feel this way, and are either still stuck in jobs we no longer enjoy (ahem this would be me), or are don’t know where to turn next. You are absolutely right that in time, opportunities will present themselves, and you will find your way again. Just keeping seeking what you love, and things will fall into place. And god bless dads, who are always support and share their wisdom 🙂

  • Yes, thank you for this reminder today, Emily! I’ve been needing to remind myself of this, too! 🙂

  • Kiara

    Such a beautifully written post on a reminder I’m sure we can all relate or (or we have at least experienced at some point in our lives). It’s definitely OK not to know what the next step is. Everything will work out the way it is meant to–I promise! Thank you for sharing your story and experience on this!

    • Emily

      Thanks, Kiara!

  • I have been through a similar situation and it is difficult to work through it. However, my life is changing in the best way because of it. I’m not necessarily changing fields, but I am going from one spectrum to the other. For me, it is the difference of doing something I’m capable of to doing something that drives my excitement!

    • Emily

      Good luck!

  • I think it’s important to take some time to really think things through– to get that much needed clarity. When you’re overwhelmed it’s hard to make a sound decision. And great advice it’s completely okay to not have things figured out. I’m pretty sure everybody has changed their mind a zillion times about what they want to be “when they grow up”. 😉

    • Emily

      Thanks, Cara!

  • I totally understand where you’re coming from. I felt that way after doing a 4 year degree, after internship I was lost. I was lost because I no longer wanted to work in that field. It suited my personality and I was great at it yes, but there was no genuine love. Now, I’m at that place currently, that place where it seems all is lost. That is exactly why I started my blog. I’m falling in love with blogging, but who knows, maybe this was what I have been searching for.

    • Emily

      I wish you so much luck on your blogging journey! I’m sure we’ll both find our callings soon enough. This is all part of our becoming.