Why It’s Okay Not to Find the Perfect Job
As I see many of my friends approaching their senior year and beyond, I can’t help but feel their anxiety. We’re scared about what lies ahead of us beyond the bubble of our university. Because for the first time for many of us, life isn’t scripted and structured. It’s a blank book.
We’re all stuck in this invisible rat race to figure it out. To find the absolute perfect fit. To get it right straight out of the gate. To not want to be left behind. I’m guilty of it too.
I left college for a year because I felt almost embarrassed that I didn’t figure out what I wanted to do in life. I didn’t have all the answers. I barely understood what value I could offer to people besides some positive vibes.
It felt like everyone else was moving ahead of me.
I thought trying out a million and one experiences would finally lead me to the elusive “perfect job”. But honestly speaking, I never found it. And that’s okay.
But more importantly, it’s okay if you don’t find your perfect job too.
Jobs don’t define you (duhhhh)
We put so much pressure on ourselves thinking that a certain role within a certain company will define the trajectory of our career and of our lives. We think that it will define us but it won’t! I know you know it. But a little reminder is always handy.
A job is not who you are, it’s just what you do.
A lot of us get caught up in the allure of finding the perfect job. Without one, we almost feel naked and exposed. We don’t have something shiny to hide behind. When people ask us “So tell me, what do you do?”, we feel embarrassed. Here’s my counter question to you.
Do you want to connect with a person that automatically buckets you by your profession and not the quality of your character?
Next time people ask you what you do, tell them who you are.
Tell them you’re a story teller. A great adventurer. A coding elephant. A lover of Renaissance art and Baroque music. Someone who wants to empower women suffering from trauma. Someone who wants to challenge and change the political landscape. Or someone who just really likes to take naps and eat food.
You define who you are. Not the job. Not society. Not that really annoying aunt. You.
There will always be time
I fully acknowledge life can change in a split second. But getting yourself worked-up on finding the perfect job right after college? When you’re probably going to be working until you’re 60? It may take you a couple years more to find the perfect fit compared to your friends.
What is a couple years in the span of a 40–50 year career? NOTHING.
So breathe. There is time to find the things you enjoy. There is time to find a place that values you. There is time to hone in on your strengths. There is time for you to try out 5 different career paths during your lifetime. Isn’t that something worth being excited about instead of stressing yourself to get it perfect out of the gate?
“Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.” — Bill Gates
The “perfect job” is a myth
9.99/10, a job was not designed with you in mind. It was not created to highlight your strengths and cover your weaknesses. It was not constructed to help you achieve your personal mission. The job was created to serve the purpose of the company.
With that line of thought, trying to find a job that perfectly fits us seems pretty unreasonable. Perfection is overrated anyway.
And if it was a perfect fit, where’s the opportunity to grow? Where’s the opportunity to be challenged? To be uncomfortable? To learn from our discomfort? To find out how much we hate something that we’d never do it again? To find areas that we love so much we need to keep doing more?
Perfection equates to complacency.
The mistake of expecting a job to be perfect
I’ve noticed that we put a lot of pressure on the company and the job. That if it’s not Google/McKinsey/Goldman/Stripe/whatever company, then the opportunity can’t possibly be the perfect job out of college. And we’re failures. Then we cry and eat some Ben & Jerry’s (is that just me?).
And if we do get an opportunity at these places, then life is suddenly daisies and butterflies. Except I’ve met plenty of people at the “dream jobs” who aren’t finding it so dreamy. So what’s going on here?
Companies are a lot like colleges. I go to Brown. So do 6,500 other individuals. We’re all Brunonians. Yet we’ve all had 6,500 different experiences that are unique to us. And not everyone calls it perfect despite it being objectively, a great school.
You make a place perfect for you, not the other way around.
In reality, Brown wasn’t my first choice. But when I got here, I found the opportunities, the classes and the people that made it perfect for me. I took agency over my experience here. And I think we forget to do that at our jobs sometimes.
You won’t find the perfect job. You make the perfect job.
The realities are, you will never find the perfect job. But you have the authority to make your job perfect (or at least, strive towards it) for you.
I’m guilty of being a passive worker in my previous jobs. When my job sucked (and there are times where every job sort of sucks), I blamed basically everyone else haha. And yes, sometimes your manager really is shitty and makes you want to pull your hair out. But what about the other times?
Are you talking to a new individual every day to see if they’re working on a problem that sounds interesting to you?
Are you actively involved in the meetings and speaking up with new ideas and project proposals?
Are you challenging the way things are done and suggesting improvements?
Are you asking for more responsibility after crushing your deliverables?
Are you showing how you’re adding value to the company?
Are you finding individuals who are doing what you want to be doing and asking how they got there?
If you are and your job still sucks, I’d leave. They’re never going to realize your value or help you grow. But before you beat yourself up about not finding the perfect job, realize your own power to make it much better suited towards you.
You have it in you to make the perfect job.
Don’t beat yourself up as you start looking for jobs. You are awesome, valued, and worthy. You have time to explore. You don’t have to get it right. You are not defined by your career. And remember. The perfect job doesn’t exist. But you can make any opportunity you find, perfect for you.