Have you ever felt like you’re being pulled in every direction but also have no direction at the same time?
In this episode, I dive into how life after college set me to reconsider my career path and other ideas of what adulthood would be like. I’ll also go into having limitless potential in your 20s, but also the restlessness of too many options. And I’ll explain how that feeling contributed to the making of this podcast.
Full transcript and show notes at tiredtwentiespod.com.
In this episode, we cover:
Hey. I’m your host Melissa Lent and I’m tired in my twenties.
Why did I want to make this podcast?
I’m 23. And even though I've only been in my twenties for a few short years, I feel like I’ve learned a lot. It is such a period of constant change that 20 feels like 10 years ago. But I also feel like there’s so much I don’t know about life yet.
Maybe you can relate to that.
I wanted to make this show to connect with other people in their 20s about this period in our lives, help us learn from each other, and maybe, help us feel a little less alone.
Let’s get into it.
This is Tired In My Twenties, a podcast about figuring out adulthood one episode at a time.
[Intro music fades]
Right now, I feel like I’m being pulled in every direction but also have no direction at the same time.
Have you ever felt like this?
One of the biggest transitions into my adult life was in 2020. Yeah. I wonder if you remember that year.
That’s the year I graduated college. And it’s also the year that my present as I knew it and my future as I hoped it would be fell apart.
On Wednesday March 11th, 2020 I turned to the television on my desk at my internship just in time to hear that my public university was temporarily closing. I felt like I was underwater; my ears were ringing.
I didn’t know that the day before had been the last day that I would walk across the Sky Bridge between buildings at Hunter College to get from one class to another. I didn’t know that the day after would be the last day of my internship for an NBC news program. And I didn’t know that two weeks later, I would be scrambling to pack my bags and move out of my dorm next to Manhattan’s East River and back to my apartment in Queens with my parents. Let me tell you, they were thrilled about that more than I was.
Before this moment, I had finally solidified a plan for myself. I thought I was going to be a journalist. It felt right.
What I saw to be the heart of journalism, or getting as close to the truth as possible, and many times aiming for positive change in the process, it tugged at my moral compass. My desire to always keep learning also pulled me to the field. And the versatility, of always seeming to have different things to do, was a big bonus.
At least in my mind, I’d tried to set myself up well: I had journalism internships throughout college. I’d worked at a few of my university’s newspapers. In my senior year, I produced an independent podcast about young adults’ mental health during COVID.
And right after my Zoom graduation, I immediately started interning at a local New York City newspaper. And once that was about to end, I started applying to jobs.
And not gonna lie, it was hard! I started freelancing and also teaching part-time at my former college to keep building experience, and also for some income.
Before college ended, I knew getting a job in journalism would be difficult. But I had been supported by my teachers and still had this rose-tinted hope that my past experiences would be enough. Listener, they were not! They were not enough.
I did get some interviews, but at different stages, the process just stopped. Many times, I just got ghosted.
It was discouraging, and I felt everything that I’d done was not good enough.
In the meantime, I was continuing what I did in college, which was learning and connecting with the community. And what I found out was that maybe the job wasn’t everything that I wanted it to be.
This is what I learned from people I spoke to and stories I read: It wasn’t just hard to get into, it was extremely difficult to find a well-paying, full-time job with benefits. Layoffs were frequent, even if you've been somewhere for years. I had learned that I wanted a little stability when so much around me felt unstable. Journalism was still a white-dominant industry where discrimination was rampant, which many industries are but still. The hours were grueling and work-life balance was scarce. There are always exceptions to these situations, but I knew that I wanted to spend as much time with my family and friends as possible, because that’s where I’m at my happiest.
I still love journalism, and I think the people who are putting their hearts into it should be recognized fully for their hard work, and receive way better treatment.
But honestly, I was disappointed. Of course, I felt incredibly lucky to be getting work freelancing, to be able to live with my parents to save money, and also to just be alive and have my loved ones be alive during a devastating pandemic. But I do think we can recognize our internal struggles as valid, while acknowledging the things we are grateful for.
I started to feel tired thinking about breaking into journalism. I started to think, is this industry really for me? Am I willing, in some cases, to compromise my health and my peace for this work? Yeah that’s right, I was having a life crisis, I’m still having a life crisis.
In the meantime, there were some bright spots in trying to figure my life out.
I was part of the first cohort of a narrative podcast training program run by two incredible creatives named Laura and Nate Davis. There, I found a warm and inviting community, developed my voice, and sharpened my podcasting skills. And one of my freelance clients, a public policy think tank, offered me a job! That’s right, your girl was finally getting those benefits. To be clear, I really admire how freelancers are able to build their businesses, but I also know in journalism that comes with immense stress, strain, and sometimes exploitation from outlets. And as you know, at this point in my life, I was looking for stability.
And now, a year after starting that job, and starting to feel comfortable there, I’ve started to feel lost within myself.
Am I not a journalist anymore? I’d been working hard the last few years towards that goal.
What am I working towards now?
And that’s why I feel pulled in every direction but also no direction. There is limitless possibility, but in that grand expanse I’m just floating aimlessly.
These past few years in my 20s, I have also had to critically reexamine my views on work; on mental health; my relationships; my journey towards financial independence; among other things.
I do think that even if COVID had never happened, even if the pandemic hadn’t caused a worldwide reevaluation of society, maybe I would’ve felt this way anyway. This feeling of floating in space. Maybe that’s what it means to grow up, and it never truly goes away. But certainly COVID may have accelerated that process.
There are a lot of people in my life who tell me I should embrace this feeling. And I know that they’re right. Friends, family, mentors, tell me that it’s okay to explore. That it’s okay to not have everything figured out. And honestly, many of them sometimes feel the same way as me, and I tell them the same thing. We are all trying to hold each other through life.
There are people who I know who have completely changed trajectories after college. Who have moved to a completely different field, or even a different state. Whose closest relationships have shifted dramatically. Who don’t even want to go to college, or pursue higher education later in life. There are people I know who have had three, four, five different paths in their lives.
Does anyone ever truly know what they want to do for their entire lives? I think a few, and if you’re one of the lucky few, honestly I love that for you. But that’s not me, and I don’t think that’s most people I meet. Even when I was in college, I explored many career paths before I settled on journalism. When I was little, I was a hobby jumper, moving from ballet to swimming to painting. I still do that now.
So listener, I hope you give yourself permission to explore. Some people say that everything you do now in your 20s is going to set you up for the rest of your life, so you better get it right. And I think that’s BS.
I plan to have Tired in my Twenties as partly an advice show, where we get into the nitty gritty of adult things like retirement funds or renting. But I also want it to be a story-first and human-first podcast that shows that there is not just one way to live life, and it’s okay if you don’t have it all figured out. We can figure it out together.
Recently the questions I’ve started to explore are: What do I enjoy? What am I good at? I am starting to look into all different types of lifestyles and careers. I am starting to find new hobbies that I enjoy outside of work. I am starting to understand what is truly important to me in this moment.
This podcast is part of answering those questions too.
I hope that you join me.
Tired In My Twenties is an independent podcast produced, edited and hosted by me, Melissa Lent! Get detailed show notes at tiredtwentiespod.com and subscribe to my newsletter at tiredtwenties.substack.com.
Music and sound effects for this episode come from Artlist. Special thanks to Isabel Gouse and Nicholas Lume.
Thank you for listening to Tired in My Twenties, and join us next time to keep figuring it out together.