Zooey Deschanel as “Jess” in the New Girl every Wednesday on Fox= Meghan Godorov as “Zooey Lynn” in Life as a young professional every day. Since moving to Massachusetts in June of this past summer, I’ve turned my life upside down. I left the family and friends I have known, many for decades, to pursue a career opportunity in career counseling and higher education that truly fits my ambitions and skills. Little did I know that this adventure would land me three male housemates, a new appreciation for locally grown produce, and the realization that my fairytale about life’s next steps and milestones needs to be revised!
Life in Western Massachusetts is very different than the life I’ve lived in Pennsylvania. This is, of course, what I was looking for- a change of pace and a fresh look at the world. I’ve been afforded this freedom and new found opportunity to “start over” as a result of a successful job search while earning my Master of Education program in Student Affairs and College Counseling. For three very productive and rewarding years, I worked really hard on my career endeavors and landed a rewarding and strengths-based position at Mount Holyoke College.
Now that I’ve been living and working here for 7 months, life is starting to catch up with me in both perceptually positive and negative ways. The fairytale and social expectations to graduate, find a job, find a husband, and live happily ever after with three children, a dog, and a white picket fence just aren’t in the cards for me…yet. I have come to realize that this is the reality many women face in their middle to late 20’s. Negotiating the space to pursue your career dreams while not feeling the pressure from within you or by others to settle down hangs over us. By acknowledging this contradiction, I am not necessarily expressing anger toward it but rather shedding light on the challenges I am facing as a driven career-minded woman who can still feel lost and incomplete without the fulfillment of personal goals and desires. The opinion or mindset that I am putting my life on hold to pursue my career endeavors is something I’ve had to turn around and realize that being the new girl is a luxury afforded to few. A clean slate to discover new aspects of my personality and share this journey with others whom I may have never done so with has caused me to revise my fairytale ending and change it to a fairytale journey worth cherishing.
This takes me back to the equation I noted at the beginning of this entry. It is funny how the universe can reveal some truths about your life that you might never have realized on your own. Upon hearing about this new show that was about to hit Fox this Fall, I could not help but giggle and acknowledge how the world is on my side and showing support (somehow) for my move. This show that was going to air was essentially about my life as I know it now! One newly single, brown haired girl living with three young adult men who are encountering the world together one day at a time through stories and interactions related to work, love, and life.
Of course, I am lucky enough to have the support of these “perfect strangers” and the successes of my career floating all around me, but so many more times I found my housemates, new friends, and I speaking to each other about our ever-changing expectations and hesitations to take those next steps in life mostly as we hope for a rewarding love life and fulfilling personal life. The fairytales we discussed, the stories in which we supposed improbable events would lead to a happy ending or designed a made up story that usually misled one of us, were no longer something to be embraced as constant. Instead, our fairytale endings or fairytale journeys to happiness started with your acknowledgement that our next steps no matter how uncertain they are won’t feel like fairytales unless you enjoy every moment of them.
For me, career aspirations have always come first and now that I am settled into a career that I feel matches who I am as a person and incorporates my strengths, I am ready to take the “me” to “we” challenge. Joanna Nauraine defined the “me” to “we” phenomenon in an article discussing the growing pains of young married couples (http://therapistinchicago.com/young-marrieds-from-me-to-we.html, Retrieved 11/22/11). Career versus marriage is one of the topics she discusses and states that, “individualistic thinking creates problems when couples are not in agreement regarding the priority of their relationship relative to one or both of their careers.” Something like this needs to be discussed prior to marriage and you need to consider your career goals in conjunction with your boyfriend or girlfriend before tying the knot. She also states that two-career couples “often have difficulty carving out time for each other…time alone supports and celebrates the importance of the relationship.” Me to we is a complicated phenomenon a tough one to succumb to after years of thinking about me, me, me. It was because of this move that I feel even more strongly regarding the importance of knowing who your “me” is before embarking on the “we”. Forcing this step too soon or for the wrong reasons can cause an upheaval of your fairytale…career, love life, and all! Being cognizant of my goals while seeking to integrate them into the life and goals of another person is challenge many young women have spoken to me about. The empowered and highly educated, single women I’ve encountered throughout my 7 years of post-secondary education report facing this same dilemma and who’s to say that the men don’t also face a similar challenge now that women are negotiating and delaying marriage, child-rearing, and letting their career take the steering wheel.
The show, the New Girl, as well as experiencing what it’s like to be the new girl in town has taught me to live life for its moments, appreciate those times when you get to learn more about yourself–to be career driven and to let life take me by its horns instead of the other way around. Quite frankly, the pursuit of a career can be quite taxing and if you do not take some time to stop and smell the roses of success, you’ll be derailed from what is really important to you and end up not able to take the “me” to a “we.” Remind yourself to value and assert your career strengths and allow both the inner and societal fairytales to slowly become reality. The luxury that time gives you to discover yourself is a precious gift and one that doesn’t last long (at least not longer than most define themselves as a “we” and not as a “me” or the new girl). So live your fairytale now, revel in the glorious moments you’re creating and savor the journey to the end- whatever that may be for you.
About the Author: Meghan Godorov, M.Ed. is the Assistant Director for Career Development at Mount Holyoke College. She graduated from Kutztown University in May 2011 and then in June 2011, she started a blog entitled anadventureworthtelling, which can be found at this address—www.anadventureworthtelling.wordpress.com—to document her reflections and experiences related to being a young professional in a new state as well as to offer career-related advice to those seeking it. She would like to offer others the opportunity to submit an anecdote about their own career-life adventure. To submit a story, please email Meghan at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details and instructions. Thank you in advance for reading!