Sometimes you have to stand in a manure field to finally understand what you want in life

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Sometimes it takes standing in a manure field to finally understand what you want in life

I stood, in the middle of the North American Manure Expo, having all my post-grad fears realized. I blinked in the morning sun (or were those tears?) and shook the dew off my sandal-clad feet in mild irritation. Yes, this was life.

Every graduate- no let me rephrase— every Letters and Science graduate harbors a secret fear they won’t find a job after commencement. Let alone a job they like. And though we speak of things like “moving to Seattle and hiking on the weekends” or “writing a book” or “interning with some non-profit”, deep down we fear the deafening thud of a zero-income moon-landing in our bank accounts.

Our dreams are many and impractical. We console ourselves because, after all, at least we have dreams. Our dream job is a nebulous concept that’s subject to change when it’s challenged and, dare I say, requires some work.

My dreams felt the last deadly nail drive into their coffin that morning at the North American Manure Expo. As farmer after farmer filed passed my tradeshow booth discussing the latest manure spreader technology, the only person there I disrespected was myself. At least attendees of the North American Manure Expo wanted to be there. Their passion compelled them to attend this conference to listen to seminars, discover the latest technology and meet other professionals.

I, on the other hand, terrified of failure, shamelessly flung myself into the arms of any job that would have me. That’s how three weeks after graduating I started as a marketing and sales intern for a renewable energy company. Deeply grateful for a job that promised writing opportunities on the company blog, I settled for something that was remotely “connected with my degree.”

Sometimes it takes standing in a manure field to finally understand what you want in life. Or at least begin to show you what you don’t.

Making a pipe dream into a rent-paying reality takes work. But it’s not impossible. Sure, you need to convince the world you can make it, but first you need to convince you.

So, let’s begin this journey together. What’s the next step? I’ll give you five.

1. Understand your goal.

Sometimes this is the hardest part. My dreams change daily. Sometimes I want to move to New York and start writing my autobiography, others, I want to open an orphanage in Peru. It can be hard to fully grasp what you want out of life. But start small. Start with a five-year plan. In five years what do you want to have accomplished?

2. Meet people.

Once you know what it is you want to do, start making appointments to meet with people who are actually doing it! Invite them out for a cup of coffee (on you!) and ask them questions, hear their story, ask for advice. DON’T ASK FOR A JOB. 

3. Be persistent.

My greatest failing— commitment. We live in a generation that likes instant results. It’s not new information, the best things in life take time, commitment, hard-work and heck, a good freaking attitude. Find someone to keep you accountable. For me that’s my dad, and trust me, both of us really want me to continue to be financially independent…

4. Consistently inspire yourself

You’ll lose sight of the goal if you don’t remind yourself why you’re hanging in there.

5. Pray.

Pray for God to open doors, give you patience, provide the strength and stamina to keep going. When he does, guess who’s getting all the glory?