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to ask if I've f*cked up

(237 Posts)
pipandco Fri 16-Feb-18 23:46:37

Sometimes I have these moments of panic that I've fucked up in terms of a career...so here we go. Sorry if this ends up pretty long!

So I graduated 2015 age 23.

I'm from Surrey and most people I know went straight from uni into London on graduate schemes. I didn't feel at all ready for this- mainly because most were 2 year long schemes and I didn't want to commit to that especially as I was clueless as to what I wanted to do. On top of that (and this may sound silly to some or like a cop-out) but my self esteem was at it's all time lowest around this time. For various reasons my confidence had taken a dive from around age 19 and I almost didn't feel good enough for a "proper adult job." I just didn't want the suit-tie-commute-into-london-corporate-life that my peers were going for.

Not wanting to move home, I decided on a total whim to take a job in a hotel in a very remote location that offered accommodation. It was intending to stay until the end of the year but I ended up there for 14 months (September of 2016 I left.)

I knew I really wanted to travel for a year or more at some point before settling down into a career. I planned on doing this from around the end of 2016. However various things kept me at home- mainly family issues- that meant I really had to postpone. Again not wanting to commit to a career per se as I really wasn't sure how long I'd be around for, I ended up working in a family friend's cafe for a few months and then went onto nannying. A friend of my mum's was looking for a full time nanny. I had a fair bit of childcare experience so thought why not. I did that until January of this year.

Now finally I am off to do the travelling I always talked about. In March I am heading to NZ and will make my way around NZ, Aus, and SE Asia from there. I'll be working a little in Aus to keep the funds up.

It'll be around March 2019 that I get back, which will make me 2 months short of being 27.

I understand plenty of people have a career change at any age, but I really fear that employees will look at me and essentially wonder wtf I have been doing with myself since graduating in 2015. Hotel work, nannying, bits of retail/cafe work with no direction. I should stress that my work ethic isn't at question- I've worked consistently since age 15 and all through university. I definitely feel like my mental health was a big reason why I didn't go straight into the workforce. Then desperately wanting to travel meant I faffed around for far too long.

I'm also worried as I know I definitely don't want to work in London but am not sure where to head to! I've visited Manchester a lot and love it so am thinking perhaps there.

I know comparing oneself to others is a huge mistake but I can't help but see my peers on facebook going up in the world and I feel really lost and annoyed at myself for falling behind. I have a vague idea of what I'd like to do after my travels, but as I say I'm worried employees will think I'm a bit of a f*ck up. I also worry about getting on the property ladder. After my travels I should have around £20k left of savings, which obviously won't get me far!

Honest opinions would be amazing. Sorry for rambling!

FaithEverPresent Fri 16-Feb-18 23:50:15

Honestly? I think you’ve been sensible! You didn’t rush into committing to things you knew weren’t right for you just because everyone else was. You’ve saved up some money. Even after travelling £20k is a decent sum of money to have in the bank. I wish I’d travelled more before settling down.

I think in the future you can say that you tried a few things while you were younger but now you’re ready to settle down and commit to something. Does the career require further studying?

Calvinlookingforhobbs Fri 16-Feb-18 23:52:18

Chill! Life is long. You need to enjoy it. It’s not a race or a competition. Enjoy yourself. You will not get to do over. You have one life, just one. Have fun.

dantdmistedious Fri 16-Feb-18 23:52:43

You're absolutely doing the right thing!

NoSquirrels Fri 16-Feb-18 23:53:14

I have a vague idea of what I'd like to do after my travels

It all hinges on this, though. How a prospective employer sees you depends on how you sell whatyiuve been doing as relevant experience to them and your new career. So you need a really good idea.

£2K savings at 27 is a lot more than I had without the round-the-world travels! Don’t worry about that - sounds like you’ll always have a job, you just need to focus on what you want from a career next.

Enjoy your travels!

PancakeInMaBelly Fri 16-Feb-18 23:56:29

Honest?
My friends who spent their 20s on their careers spent their 30s going on amazing holidays and in their 40s are set for life! Mortgages well on the way to being paid off, expensive hobbies, able to cut hours, travel and kick back and enjoy life

The ones who put it off till later never caught up. Its harder to build up a career when youre older and maybe have kids.
Those that "enjoyed" their 20s have stuggled in their 30s and 40s and have sod all pension so will likely struggle in old age

Also, if you have the means for it, i think you enjoy travel more later when you do it your way.

pipandco Sat 17-Feb-18 00:01:27

oh dear PancakeInMaBell thats put the fear of god in me hahaha. I'm fairly sure i don't want children so at least there's that... but I see what you're saying already with a lot of my peers going on amazing holidays etc. I already felt behind as a did a gap year and then a 4 year degree meaning I was 23 by the time I left uni whereas most people were 21! eek.. I'll keep reading over the others comments to put my mind at ease lol

JockTamsonsBairns Sat 17-Feb-18 00:05:07

Right, you have your own one life - just live it! Travel, see the world, work out who you are and what it is you want to do. Honestly, no good employer is going to pass up the chance of taking on someone who's developed themselves in this way.
Please, for your own sake, go and explore, see the world, find out who you are and what you want to be. It's not time wasted, I promise you. The job/mortgage/bills will be waiting for you in later life.
Have fun!

PancakeInMaBelly Sat 17-Feb-18 00:05:52

Its easier to pull the extra hours etc and go the extra mile for promotions when youre young. It is harder as you get older to burn the candle at both ends.

Cricrichan Sat 17-Feb-18 00:11:55

It seems like you're scared of working. It's nearly three years where you could have built up your experience but you didn't. What career is it? Did you enjoy your studies?

FastWindow Sat 17-Feb-18 00:13:44

Op: stop feeling behind. The one thing that will hold you back is that exact thing you name yourself.
Interested to hear more about you, you say you're fairly sure you don't want children?
I finished uni at 23. That was 21 years ago. I've lived three lives since then!

fairylightsdown Sat 17-Feb-18 00:15:15

I totally agree with Pancake. I started on my career in my mid 20s because I did a couple of degrees and diplomas. I'm late 30s now and struggle to keep up with the long hours that I did with ease in my mid 20s. I'm trying to pay into pension & overpay the mortgage. I'm working until I'm at least 65 now.

shinysinkredemption Sat 17-Feb-18 00:15:21

Do you have contacts in an industry you'd like to work in - sounds like if you get a foot in the door somewhere your work ethic and broad interests will shine through, you can impress them in your job and the rest will follow. Keep your savings ring fenced if you can. There's more than one way to get ahead. Travelling sounds perfect for you now and might focus your mind on what you really want to do with your life.

shinysinkredemption Sat 17-Feb-18 00:16:22

You're awfully young to write off the idea of children btw

Yambabe Sat 17-Feb-18 00:18:59

Employers won't mind seeing some jobs you are overqualified for and a year travelling on your CV. It's gaps in a CV that can cause issues and it sounds like you don't have any.

Just out of curiosity what is your degree in and what to you think (even tentatively) you might want to do?

Hidingtonothing Sat 17-Feb-18 00:19:44

I think you're looking quite negatively at what you've done since uni actually OP. Plenty of employers would see that sort of life experience as a real positive, same goes for not rushing into choosing the right career.

It's really important that you see the positives and that that's what comes across in job applications/your CV/interviews though, taking your time and living a little before you settle down isn't something you need to apologise for.

As for the 'falling behind' thing I don't think you are, you have bags of time yet. I would put money on a fair few of those peers you see on fb feeling exactly the way you do but in reverse, they would likely swap places with you in a heartbeat. Travelling and the sort of independence and freedom you have now don't happen (or at least not in the same way) at any other stage of life really so you're absolutely right to make the most of it. Hope you have a fantastic time travelling flowers

StillMedusa Sat 17-Feb-18 00:22:37

Enjoy yourself...life is short!
Some folks commit to a career early and that's fine, others don't and you know what? That's fine too!

I say that as the parent of 4 kids....the eldest is your age..she went into medicine and while she loves being a doctor her life is hard, very stressful and she isn't rich, and is renting as her partner is at Uni doing a second degree and doesn't work.
My son however is about to turn 25, works as a teaching assistant locally, went off to Oz for a year and met a lovely aussie girl who is living with us on a 2 year visa, and after that who knows where they will end up...but they will get by! They have all sorts of complications if they stay together but their attitude is..'we will work something out' smile

I did a decent degree and have done all sorts of jobs since; never really a career, and you know, I'm fine with that..never wanted huge responsibility in my working life.

And you have obviously got a sensible head re finances... so travel, enjoy it, and see what happens next!

namechangealerttt Sat 17-Feb-18 00:23:29

Hi OP, I spent my 20s dealing with mental health issues and low self esteem from a difficult upbringing, 30s raising children and working part time in low paid jobs that fit around family. I turned 40 in January and have just enrolled in a post graduate course which should start a new career, and got a part time entry level position in the same field.

I have worked hard like yourself despite being poorly paid. I took some voluntary positions when my children were young with a lot of responsibility that built my confidence. My kids are still in primary, I hope to be qualified by the time they are teenagers.

I am the one that has held myself back, I am still working on it, now I am going for it career wise I have found opportunities. Rest assured, there is time.

PancakeInMaBelly Sat 17-Feb-18 00:26:10

Travelling and the sort of independence and freedom you have now don't happen (or at least not in the same way) at any other stage of life

Thats not the case at all with my peers
Some of the ones who were career focused in their 20s are now in their 40s/50s able to work in a freelance or consultancy capacity charging good money, they can pick and chose when or where they work. They own property and can chose where they live as they have in demand skills. have been on some big/long trips

They have A LOT more freedom with their travels than your average back packing 20something.

AClearShotOfTheStreet Sat 17-Feb-18 00:29:23

Well, what's done is done now. You are about to go on the trip of a lifetime and have thousands in the bank, so stop worrying about the what ifs and just enjoy yourself.

BTW, I know tons of people who went travelling "for a year" and never came back. One is a scuba instructor, one a snowboard instructor. Several married locals and stayed and had kids. One works for an NGO in Kenya. One owns a bar. My BF and I had an epiphany on a tall ship in the Great Barrier Reef and both came back to retrain completely - one of us is a midwife and the other a copper. So just go, enjoy yourself and see where it takes you x

AClearShotOfTheStreet Sat 17-Feb-18 00:32:00

Pancake, travelling in your 40s with money is totally different to travelling in your twenties with none. Not to say one is better or worse but my time travelling was a total one-off and the experience I had as a oenniless backpacker is one I will treasure forever.

Ariela Sat 17-Feb-18 00:33:57

My mother went to Uni in the days when you had to be a doctor or a teacher to get to go to Uni. She hated teaching.
So in the 1970s, when we were young (3 of us), & in her 40s she retrained to be a solicitor, by correspondence course. Passed all her exams and with great difficult (as an older lady trying to get articled as a solicitor was difficult then), and qualified. Loved the job, and did carve a great 2nd career despite a lot of prejudice & struggles with unequal pay(woman solicitors were not as common then).
If she could do it in the 1970s, I see no reason you can't in a year's time as it is MUCH easier for women to be taken more seriously in careers now, and you are considerably younger.

Justbenice Sat 17-Feb-18 00:45:07

Omgosh bless you! I'm 36 and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up! So far I've been an archaeologist, a primary teacher and now a history MA graduate, with three children, 2 husbands (not at the same time) and a long term partner in the past 15 years. Most people who know me would say I have it all figured out and my life set but really that's not true! I'm settled yes but still don't know where I'm going, I'm not sure many people do do they? I have lots of career minded friends who earn lots of money and have 'normal' lives and most of them say they feel like fakes, like they'll get found out sometime or something!
My advice is... Don't worry! Most people are just waffling through life. You are still so young, chill out, have some fun, pay your bills and the rest is just fun! Enjoy hun! Xxxflowers

PancakeInMaBelly Sat 17-Feb-18 00:47:38

*Pancake, travelling in your 40s with money is totally different to travelling in your twenties*I
& Starting at the bottom of your field trying to prove yourself so you can move up in your 20s is totally different to doing it in your 40s

If my peers are anything to go by, it's either one decade of bits of travel then several playing catch up or one good early push to establish yourself then a lifetime of great holidays, hobbies and homes

Also, retraining or having a second career is a totally different position to be in than starting your career from scratch for the first time.

pipandco Sat 17-Feb-18 00:54:06

Thanks so much everyone for the responses so far.
A few have asked what my degree was. I studied Anthropology and got a 2:1...my degree is a big sore point in my family!

I come from a very academic family- lots of Oxbridge, my mum's parents met while studying at Oxford Uni in the late 40s. Going to uni full stop as rare in those days, for a woman was even rarer and for a woman to get into Oxford was rarer still...so in all honesty my family are really quite snooty when it comes to academics/intellect.

I really wanted to study a tv/film type degree as I knew from a young age I'd like to work somewhere within that industry. I had one conversation with my mum about this when I was in lower six, and one was enough to know that an "academic" degree was my only choice- you don't have to tell me how nuts my mum is. This whole topic as I say is a sore point and I'll always be slightly resentful!

That;s not to say that some great careers can come from anthropology, but nothing I'm desperate to work in

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