Hi lovelies. Welcome back for another installment of Transitions. (If you’re new, find out more about the series here.) Today’s guest post is from the lovely Justine, author of one of my first-thing-in-the-morning reads. She’s smart, she’s funny, and she shares my love for dogs we can’t have (YET!). She’s also visiting Iceland soon (how cool, right?!) and I can’t wait to read about her adventures there. Thanks for joining us today, Justine!
Hi there! I’m Justine. I’m 24 (and a half), and I’m currently the Social Media Specialist for a dinnerware and kitchenware development and marketing company. I’m also the founder and author of the blog Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One, which is pretty much the story of my life (which includes a lot of cooking, decorating, crafting, running, nerdiness, and random stories). I like to think of my blog as the awkward girl’s survival guide to life.
What is your educational/career background?
I went to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa (holla!) and received a dual degree in magazine journalism and writing.
What did you initially see yourself doing with your specific degree/major?
I’ve known I was going to be a writer my entire life. (I have vivid childhood memories of stapling together construction paper “books” containing stories I’d written about bunnies and puppies and little girls with brown hair and bangs.) After school, my plan was to move to New York and get a fabulous job at a lifestyle magazine, ideally moving up the ranks to become a health or features editor.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working full-time in social media promotion, but I’m also working on expanding my blog and, in general, figuring out what I want to do when I grow up.
What made you decide to change direction? Is there a specific moment when you knew you didn’t want to continue down your initial path?
I’m going to answer this question with a quote from a post on my blog where I discussed in-depth why I had to make a change:
I can pinpoint the exact moment I started having doubts about my lifelong dream.
It was 8:30 on a Friday night, and I had volunteered to stay late with an editor to finish a few slideshows and things that had to be done before we left for the weekend. I had planned on making a quick trip to Long Island for the evening to visit my boyfriend (so in the throws of romance were he and I that even if we could only see each other for a couple of hours, after an hour commute each way, it was a better alternative to not seeing each other for two weeks), but my gallant offer had squashed those plans. As the hours ticked by (none of which I would be compensated for, just to clarify for those of you who have never been in the industry), I started to notice that my editor didn’t seem as anxious to leave as I did. I timidly asked her if she was in the office that late every night. She answered yes, and there was a note of questioning in her voice. As if she was saying, “Why wouldn’t I?”
Though I brushed off the feeling I felt then for the better part of two years, that was the moment. That was when I first started to doubt my decision.
Was anything surprising/unexpected about your current field?
Honestly? How easy it is. What I mean by that is, how easy everything is now. I start work at nine, and I leave at five. Even if something isn’t done. I get paid a real, grown-up salary on which I can actually support myself despite living in the most expensive area of the country. If I have to work on the weekend for an event, I get an additional day of vacation. (Can I just tell you how many events I worked while at the magazine that I was never compensated for in any way?)
It was also a really big change for me to finally have a title that didn’t have the word “assistant” in it. Suddenly, when I spoke, people listened. People looked to me for direction, and then they actually did the things I recommended. You have no idea how good it is for your mental well being to feel like people are listening to you.
Do you have any regrets? If you could talk to a younger you, what would you tell yourself?
I play this game with myself a lot, but honestly, I would have done things pretty much the same. I really enjoyed studying journalism, and I learned skills that will benefit me no matter what industry I work in (and especially if I decide to go back to journalism, which I haven’t ruled out). I know how to identify my audience and cater what I’m doing to their needs. I know how to stay calm in high-pressure situations, stick to deadlines, and work within very limited budgets. I know how to write. Do you have any idea how many people don’t know how to write? It would shock you.
Plus, if I hadn’t followed through with my plan to pursue journalism and move to New York, I probably wouldn’t have ever gotten to know my husband, and that’s one thing I can’t imagine ever changing about my life.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Um…I hope to have a dog. Possibly thinking about expanding our family. But that’s really all I know for sure. I might still be in New York; I might not. I might not be in journalism, but I also might be. I would really like to find a job that allows me to work from home and pursue freelance writing more often.
But when I think that far into the future, I just sort of shrug. Because I’ve moved around enough (geographically and career-wise) to know that it’s impossible (and in a lot of ways pointless) to try to predict exactly what my life will be like. If making this big change in my career taught me anything, it’s that I have the power to make myself happy. I like to repeat the mantra, “We are not trees. We can always move.” It keeps me from ever panicking if I find myself changing my mind about what I want.
So I don’t know exactly where I’ll be in five years. But I think what’s really important is that, for the first time, that doesn’t scare me.