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I Have Two College Degrees, Yet Work in Retail

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That's me in the picture. I wish this entry was going to be about my fear of stage fright, but to be upfront, I am not an acclaimed television reporter yet. Not even close.

On paper, it looks like I've made all the right choices, and in addition, my personal life has never been better. I went to college and graduate school completing two degrees in journalism. I have a loving family that has given me everything and sometimes more than I deserve. I'm finally in a relationship with a guy who is a genuine, caring, and all around, lovable person I can share my time with.

There are no doubts that I am incredibly lucky. I don't have to worry about student loans or keeping tabs on my daily finances because of all the amazing help my parents can afford me. So what is my ultimate fear? When you strip away the support of my parents and remove my boyfriend from the picture, I fear that I am an unsuccessful individual.

Almost everyone wants to confidently say they love what they do for a living. Life tends to drag when you don't. For me, being unhappy in my professional life makes me feel useless. You may be wondering by this point, what is it that I do if I'm not a CBS news anchor. I wish I could say I was a working journalist in the slightest degree, and I'd be happy to work for pennies if I felt empowered with what I was contributing; however, I currently work as a sales consultant at at a major retail store. I want to say I still have a small freelancing gig for the New England Newspaper & Press Association, but I haven't been given a photography assignment in over a month. After five and a half years of education, with three and a half of those years being concentrated in multimedia journalism - plus several internships later - I still feel as though all of that has resulted in nothing. It's been a year since I finished graduate school, and all I do is work long hours for bare rewards in retail and sporadically apply for jobs where I've been living.

I have an incredible fear that I will never be a person who is proud herself. I'm afraid I'm not good enough to compete in the cutthroat industry that journalism is, and as more time goes by, the more I feel the skills I've learned are becoming irrelevant. I have tried to make connections and network over the past year and so far, the best advice I've been given is to move out of Boston. Take a job anywhere in this country that will offer me one. That would be easy enough if I felt like living like a lone wolf in any small town USA until I earn my chops, but what about Mr. Right? Do I leave him behind hoping that one day that will eventually fall into place, too? I'm afraid that I'm lost.

The last thing I'm trying to do is evoke pity from anyone reading this, because as this is the time of Thanksgiving, I have so much in life to be grateful for. All I wish is that it were easier for me to find the path to work toward a successful future. Now that I'm out of school, I do not have the guidance of professors, my friends and family who work in non-media industries.

I'm afraid that maybe I should have thought about choosing a different career when I was younger. For example, my boyfriend is a software engineer. That's a career unlike journalism that doesn't require a personality for a job interview, and a profession that has incredible growth. The journalism industry is on a downward trend, and jobs are sparse. I fear that I am my own disappointment for choosing this line of work. There is also a huge amount back-and-forth in my mind about whose fault it is for this grand stalling in my life. Is it the economy's? The digital age's? My talent? My lack of connections? Laziness? I honestly think it could be a combination of all of those things. Now I'm considering starting all over and finding a new career path knowing that entails using more money, time and uncertainty.

I have this nightmare that I will never be like my friends who are proud and secure in their professional lives, that I will always be embarrassed to tell people that have a profession that lends me no self-worth. I know I may get some flack for being condescending about service or retail industries. However, if you are proud of the work you do, please do not compare my feelings with yours. We all have our own journeys to take, and I'm not trying to say that I'm above working in retail, but I know it is not where my passion lies.

What brings me some comfort to my fears is knowing that I'm not the only one going through something like this. I know there are thousands of post-grads just like myself who are having trouble finding jobs or figuring out exactly how to pursue it. For those who understand or who have pushed through this obstacle in their lives, I welcome your advice.
This post was originally a response to the question "What is your biggest fear?".
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