When I graduated college almost a year and a half ago, I had a plan, at least as far as I could see. I graduated in May and I had a job lined up with the first day scheduled two weeks after I had gotten home to Ohio. My siblings were all home for the summer and I was looking forward to starting my new position in a familiar city, spending time with family, and being around for the birth of my sister’s first son. That was about as far as I felt I needed to think ahead.

In the back of my mind there was always the thought that I would not want to be in Ohio for very much longer, but as my temporary position got pushed to a year-long one, and then the contract was renewed for another year, I found myself settling in for more of a long stay in Ohio. I had reached the comfortable position of being able to pay my student loan bills without the stress of thinking about making rent thanks to living at home. Being able to make those payments each month was and remains my biggest concern and responsibility.

Still, in the past year and a half I haven’t stopped thinking about the next few years and what they’ll bring. While the security I feel in my current position has been amazing, it isn’t enough to shake off the urgency I feel about moving somewhere new, alone, and actually starting my own life with my own apartment and a job I’m really excited and passionate about. With just under a year until my contract will be up, this desire to move someplace and to feel totally independent has really been starting to boil on that back burner in my mind.

The same goes for what I actually want to be doing for the rest of my life. I’ve been a writer for almost as long as I can remember. That’s important to me – to say I’m a writer – and I’m still getting used to saying it without feeling like a fraud. I write blog posts and articles for a newsletter at my job, but maybe since it’s not my full job description or job title, I sometimes feel like calling myself a writer is too much. Recently, though, I’ve started to believe that what’s really important is to not define myself by others’ definitions of success.

I write almost everyday, whether for my job or creatively. I started this blog, I write in journals or jot down notes in my phone of ideas for stories almost everyday, or write little bits and pieces that may turn into something someday. I read tons of books and let them inspire me and I watch movies thinking about the craft of the screenplay behind them. I don’t know when, where, how, or about what I am going to write a book, but I am going to one day. I am sure of it. To me, that makes me a writer.

So if I go back to the question of where I see myself in the next few years, my answer would be that I see myself writing. It’s one thing that I really love to do and am sure of myself doing. I would love to eventually be an author and work for myself, but I recognize that I have a long way to go. It’s been so valuable for me to gain the writing experience that I have in my current position, and I want to be able to utilize what I’ve learned from this job experience in my next one, so when I finally move (more on that later), I am hopeful about finding a writing position at some sort of publication. Right now I’m attracted to the idea of writing and creating content for an online publication – something like Refinery 29, or Man Repeller.

Like I said before, the important thing in life, in work, in love, in basically everything, is to not define yourself by others’ success. I can easily spend time on Instagram or Facebook, or even LinkedIn comparing myself to my peers, becoming jealous of other people’s jobs and the fact that they’re working somewhere exciting doing exactly what they love to do. I’m finally realizing that’s such a waste of precious energy! It’s so, so much better to decide to feel happy for my friends, and inspired and excited about my own future. It’s like the warning everyone hears at some point or another in high school: “eyes on your own paper.”

I feel thrilled by the fact that I’ll be living in a new city this time next year, in a job I love with new friends in a hopefully affordable apartment that’s my own. It’s scary and it’s going to involve some risk, but that’s part of what makes it so exciting. Putting stock in my dreams and taking myself seriously is one of the most important things I’ll ever do.

I took a screenshot of a quote from someone’s Instagram story at one point that I’ve saved in my phone. It’s from F. Scott Fitzgerald and it says: “For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” I love that – the idea that it’s never too late, that you can be who you want to be, and the proposal of a fresh start.

I’m throwing out as much positive energy to the universe as I can muster, and I know that it’s going to throw some back my way too.

With love and gratitude,

Olivia

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