Where do you see yourself in five years? I met up with one of my friends from grad school this evening for dinner and drinks at the Longfellow Bar in Harvard Square. We were in a two-year Master’s program together and graduated one year apart, I first. My friend Kris has been out of school for 3 months now, while I myself, one year and 3 months. We both feel like we are living in temporary states. Kris started a job in her industry that she enjoys, but knows that her position now isn’t her end goal. I, on the other hand, am currently working 3 part-time jobs, and I’m well aware that this is not sustainable in the long run.
So where do we see ourselves in five years? While neither of us have a specific goal in mind, we both know that we would like to be further along in our careers. However, at the end of the day, we both know that we just want to be happy. Kris and I went to Harvard for our Master’s degree. At Harvard, everyone is striving for something. While this atmosphere can easily foster communities for people with similar interests, it can also stoke competition for those in the same field.
While Kris and I both feel the pressure to keep moving forward and to keep working to get to the top of our careers, at the same time, we both feel that this dogged pursuit might not be the most fulfilling in life. We both certainly do want to be in careers that we love, but at the same time, we are at a point in our lives that we realize at the end of the day a good career is not everything in life. Your career will not be there waiting for you to come home in the evening, it will not get drinks with you on a Friday night, nor will it stand by your side tragedy strikes. Kris and I both want to be happy in all parts of our lives, which means taking enough time to not only focus on our interests and careers, but also taking the time to focus on our interpersonal and romantic relationships.
It’s all about balance, which can be really, really hard. What is a work life balance anyway? If I were to focus on my work intensely for five years and get the position that I love then would I have permission to relax and redirect my attention to finding a relationship? I don’t know, but I’m sure that it’s not that simple. I have goals for all parts of my life, even for trivial stuff, like I want to start taking better care of the skin around my eyes (clinging to my youth as best as I can!), but my biggest and most rewarding pursuit is to find true happiness. This to me means feeling fulfilled in all parts of my life. Even if I never become an expert in my field or do not end up practicing yoga or writing everyday, as long as I enjoy the pursuit then I know that I am on the right track. While I still do not know my end career goal or where my boyfriend or I will be in five years, I know that when I look on my path today, I can at least look ahead and smile. It’s not about the end, Dear Reader, because nothing comes after the end, it’s about all of this big and amazing stuff in the meantime, which makes life worth living.