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One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

July 18, 2014

12407282-256-k244971As 20somethings we’re no strangers to failure, often finding ourselves paralyzed by indecision or blinded by ambition. We cringe daily at what we didn’t do and what we haven’t become, what we said and what we believed and yet, as much as we stumble we still find ourselves on the other side a little different. No matter how much we do or don’t do we still grow up every day. Isn’t it possible that for ever step back we take we take two steps forward?

Over the last year I’ve taken a lot of steps backwards. I quit a great office job, lived with my parents, lost touch with friends, and spent an unnecessary $10,000. But I also got to travel Europe for 5 months, something that I’d always wanted to do and would have likely regretted missing out on. Sure, my life isn’t moving as linearly forward as it could be right now, but it is still moving forward. Every step forward that I had to give up this year was worth the one big step in a slightly different direction. For everything I’ve lost I’ve grown closer to the person I want to become.

Now that I’m back in the USA I’ve had to make a few more decisions, mainly whether or not to throw myself back on the office job track I was on before this “set back.” As of last week I bought myself a bit more time to figure things out by taking a summer job that in many ways is the biggest step back I’ve taken so far.

For the rest of the summer I’ll be working at the ski resort I grew up on, manning the carousel and the mini golf shack, helping children rock climb and adults get safely down roller coasters. With a smile and tons of sunscreen I take tickets and load ski lifts, answer questions and deal with bumps and bruises. The work is dirty and our shifts are long (12 hours on Sat and Sunday), and my coworkers are college kids and ski bums, uneducated and unmotivated. On paper, living with my parents and working for $9 an hour at a job that I could have gotten 10 years ago is a pretty significant step back.

But as far back as this step seems, in reality this job is perfect for me right now. They hired me immediately, putting me to work only two days after I applied. My hours are flexible and I live less than 15 minutes away from the resort and coworkers I’m already familiar with. My boss only shrugged when I told him that I’d want to miss 17 days of work in August for family vacations. When I get home I feel accomplished, exhausted and stronger from working outside and building callouses. And to top it off, everyone knows this it isn’t permanent.

Everyone I meet has stories of what they’ll do in the winter, where they’re going in just a few more weeks. For the first time in a long time I don’t feel guilty for working somewhere I know I won’t stay. And after traveling every day for the last 5 months, now I have a few weeks to catch up on projects and focus on what I want to do next and how to make it happen.

I’ve taken a lot of steps backwards this year, but I’ve also taken more steps forward, choosing to do what I want and need to do instead of what I think will look good on my resume. I’m happy. And even though I’m overqualified for this job, doesn’t mean it isn’t the best thing for me to do right now. I’m grateful for it and every step backwards I’ve taken in my life, because really, they’re steps forward too.

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