Sometimes I feel like I am simultaneously the most confident and the most insecure person on the planet. 

I very much know myself and what I enjoy, and what works for me as an employee and student. But what I don’t know is what the expectations really are for me at this time. I can raise myself up quickly with my successes: I’ve lived and worked in three countries before I have even earned my university degree! But looking at other people around me so easily tears me down.

My first step towards trusting my career intuition: Studying at the University of Washington.
My acceptance into the University of Washington

I have always harbored this jealousy for people who are engineers, carpenters, or lawyers. I am a business major, which doesn’t necessarily translate into a direct career at any certain type of company. However, if you study engineering, I think it’s safe to assume you’re going to be an engineer. I am jealous of stability– of people who have their careers planned out. I’m so controlled by my whim for more that I direct myself towards more ambiguous, albeit exciting, paths. I compare myself to the people on my Facebook page who are buying homes, getting promoted, or getting engaged. My desire for an unconventional life has left me pursuing a future that follows my career intuition but isn’t stable. What is a career intuition? It means I don’t have a vision of what my future career will be but I guide my professional decisions based on what feels good to me.

I’ve never been one of those girls who dreamed of a certain career. 

The normalcy of a 9-5 in a cubicle is something I’m unable to be content with. I throw myself into situations that are at first stressful. Moving to a new country: stressful. Focusing my studies on something that doesn’t align with a set career: stressful. Not knowing what the next ten years of my life will look like: stressful. Literally even navigating a grocery store in a foreign country: surprisingly stressful. I am dedicating a crucial time of my life to pursuing my ‘wants’ and maybe not my ‘needs.’ That I’m dedicating a foundational part of my life to exploring, and in twenty years I will still be struggling at a minimum wage job scares me. But I know that right now, I want to explore the world and take full advantage of my youth while I don’t have bills or other large responsibilities. 

Perks of trusting your career intuition: A weekend trip to Copenhagen while studying abroad!
Livin’ it up on a weekend trip to Copenhagen while studying abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland

There is a huge risk in pursuing your passions over what is practical. And pursuing a future based on intuition, not a vision. But what is greater than my jealousy of other people’s stability and “conventional” paths, is my fear of regretting not pursuing a future that allows me to travel all over the world and makes me excited to go into work every morning (whatever that work may be). This career hasn’t manifested itself into a specific image, or vision of the future. But I do know what feels right, so I will follow my career intuition to guide me along in my decision-making. But, that doesn’t mean I can’t put in some work now. 

So what to do about it? 

First of all: yes, many people on Facebook are getting engaged and promoted, but some of my “friends” are also posting about going to jail and/or are trolls who comment negativity on anything they can find. So, I probably shouldn’t rely on Facebook as a marker of success. 

I also am strategic about all of my “whims.” Yeah, I am packed up and moved to a foreign country for two months, but it is for an internship where I’m gaining valuable work experience. There is tact in all of my adventures and decisions. So you’ll never see me moving to Thailand without a job already arranged or university classes to be taken (some people can afford to do this, but sadly, not I). You can definitely travel and follow your dreams and not be totally irresponsible about it.


Following my career intuition brought me here, interning at CoWomen!
My first internship in Berlin, Germany at CoWomen with fellow interns Adrian and Dominique!

I also make sure that every work experience I gain is diverse, yet transferable. I don’t know what career(s) I’ll want to pursue in the future. And that’s okay! But it’s not a reason to not be getting work experience. There is so much value in dedicating yourself to a job or internship. So even if it doesn’t directly correlate to something I want to do in the future, I am proving that I am reliable, hardworking, and flexible! Plus, some extra money doesn’t hurt. I worked two jobs in the summer of 2018 to finance my study abroad trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. 

And finally, it really doesn’t help being an asshole to yourself. I’m a strong believer in positive reinforcement and not punishments. All in all, every experience, good or bad, is a learning experience. So if something happens that I don’t like, it’s getting mentally categorized as, “yep, never doing that again” and moving on, and not, “omg, I’m a huge failure.” 

So if you, like me, sometimes feel like there isn’t a clear goal you’re pursuing, keep in mind that it’s better to actually attempt to pursue happiness than being complacent for the sake of living a “normal” life. And it’s okay to not have a set vision of what your future will look like. Remain malleable in your decisions, be flexible, and follow your career intuition on what seems like smart decisions for you, and not for other people.