"Crossroads" sounds so cliche

I am a 25 year old Romanian… volunteer.

I started law school because at that time it seemed to make the most sense. I love discutions and debates, I always tended to argue for what I believed in, my memory served me rather well, I was always up for a challenge and bored when none presented itself and I actually like to speak in public.

I finished law school because I don’t like to leave things unfinished. In my third year I started to doubt my chareer choice, but I thought that once I start working, everything will fall into place. Also in my third year I started volunteering in the students association, and eventually I lead the human resources department. Working close to people and figuring out their source of motivation and then fueling it helped me get through the last 2 years of school.

I worked for two years as a trainee lawyer, and after I took all the exams demanded, I became a full on lawyer. I even got some pretty good work offers. But by that time, I realised that while idealistically speaking my reasons for choosing law made perfect sense, in real life they were just that: idealistic. And then, I realised that I am also a bit of an idealist myself. So, at 24 I was perfectly educated to work for the rest of my life in a field that has nothing to do with who I am. I have to tell you, by this point I felt I was deep in a crisis.

So I did the only thing I could. I gave up being a lawyer and I started to search for something else. But I was a little bit torn to pieces so not much seemed to make sense. As it happened, I found an opportunity to become a volunteer for one year, in Serbia. This is where I’m writing from right now. I see this as a year to regroup. To find some answers, and hopefully a plan. I have been here for 8 months. I still don’t know what I’ll be doing next. And recently I did start to feel a little time pressure. Usually this helps.

I can’t describe here all my ride, because I am in the middle of it, but I can’t say I would change much until now.  Also, I don’t know if by the end of the year I will find my answers and a good enough plan, but I most certainly managed to regroup. And as a bonus, even learn a thing or two.

Same doubt graduating from a university I did not choose well

Incidentally or not, my story also uses this term, “crossroads” which is so typical for us in our early twenties having just graduated from college. It’s annoying, I know… myself being a Romanian, I dealt with the exact same feeling when I graduated from Communication and PR (btw at babes-bolyai university in cluj). Can’t decide which one is more popular in Romanian education now: communication or law school…  but although many students enter those fields, many many seem dissapointed. Either because they meet objective obstacles (system-related) or realise it’s not really what they wanted, as we did. In my opinion there seems to be a problem which goes way back and it has to do with information: by the time we graduate from high school, we have no idea what’s happening in university, no real guidance whatsoever. some of us just let themselves convinced into applying for a department by their parents, the newpapers, or the idealistic view of how university translates into professional status…

many many points I could make on this topic, but for now I just want to say your story made me think again and again at the huge role education often plays, and at the same time minor in terms of what we end up doing… how is volunteering in Serbia? are you working for a large organization? any career prospects afterwards that you can factor into your plan ?

Hello Noemi and Alberto! I will answer you both because some of the points are pretty well connected.

First, Alberto, I still hope it wasn’t all for nothing :p. I mean that while I might not use law school for it’s designated purpose, I still feel I learned a lot during these years.

The biggest dissapointment was I believe the contrast between the theory and the practice of law. Because while the system of law, even though faulty in some aspects strives for finding the best solutions, the practice seemed petty and most times hypocritical and so do most of the people that I had the “pleasure” to meet. The values just seem to be upside down. And my ride there seemed taken out of some Kafka novel.

About Bologna Process… I believe it’s flexibility is more than apparent and I might take advantage of it sometime, but the problem, as Noemi said lais in the guidance when choosing a career path, guidance that I couldn’t find when I finished high school. I was 17 then and while I had the knowledge necessary for any university, I was completely unequipped when it came to choosing the right one for me.

My work in Serbia is not in a big organization but I must say I am not looking for a career here. I have some projects here, mostly teaching English and delivering a training from time to time, writing some projects, organizing different events and learning Serbian. All in all, it’s been quite a relaxing 8 month period and I’ve been doing things I like to do. But I have to say, I’m still very undecided about what to do when I finish my project here.

Just what did you see?

I applaud your integrity. It is heartbreaking to hear that all of that effort went into nothing. Can I ask you what it is that disappointed you so much in the legal profession?

And a note on the side. I am much older than you, Di, and also than Noemi. Maybe because of this, there is something I don’t understand in both your stories. I thought that the reform of university known as the Bologna Process has broken down studies into two chunks, one three and the other one two years long. The idea, as I understand it, is exactly to create the space for changing your course during your studies: for example you could do a three-years economics degree, then decide you want to understand the economics of the arts sector and do a Master degree in Art History with a lot of economic history and some extra economics.

Judging from your story and Noemi’s comment it seems that this flexibility has not helped you. Is it more apparent than real? Or is it that you don’t really need flexibility in your studies at all.

Find your real practice

Ciao! :slight_smile:

sometimes, I do not know why… may be because people see me really centered and they think I could help them… I’m approached by people in a middle of a professional crisis. I do not know if my suggestions are always good for any situation, but I think that they could not make your path worst :wink:

First of all crisis is a terrible thing to waste. This is such an incredible opportunity for grow and change, because there are people that will never discover that they took the wrong path and they will live forever sad. You have this gift to choose. Your crisis is the crack that force you to choose. There are people disperate outside bagging for an external agent that will force them to take a great decision in their life.

You have it. Do not waste it in worries or fears. Embrace it and ride it as much as you can and try to keep a bit of it forever, because this will make you always in a quest for something better and will give you a better chance to be happy. (“Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish” it is all about this spark, IMHO).

Secondary a crisis like this about a professional path, is particulary valuable when you are young, because you are plent of time to restart, even from scratch.

Try and fail is the only possibilty we have to find our path. It is normal and it is absolutely right to fail. It is our society that is telling us that failing is for losers, but in fact it is just the way has to be. Failing without changing, that is for losers!

Anyway… Those are social considerations that probably are not really helpful in your moment in time :slight_smile:

What you could need now is a mentor, a role that is completely missing nowadays. Somebody that could nurture your skills, help to sort out your feelings and challenging you continuosly, help you to find your own questions and answers. Few of us are lucky enough to have parents like this, or their boss, or their friends. I’m not, I never found one.

But I read some books and articles and I had some interesting conversations that helped me a lot not in finding any answers but really improved my process of “centering” and understanding.

It is no easy when you are searching in yourself so deeply, and there is no guarantee on results. But this is the exciting side not the sad one! Life is a journey and we can just learn how to run better because at the end of the race there is dead, not any prize (well at least from a not religious point of view).

One of the books I found really interesting for myself is called “From Good To Great” by Jim Collins.

The book is about a study he made on why some good companies became great one and some not, which are the hided reason why? Yes is about companies, strategy and leadership but there are some models that we could use for ourselves too.

Imagine to draw three circles, so that there’s a common area in the middle of them. Each circle will contain your answer on one of the following questions:

  1. What are you deeply passionate about?

  2. What are you are genetically encoded for — what activities do you feel just “made to do”?

  3. What makes economic sense — what can you make a living at?

The intersection of the three answers/circles could be your lens to check if your decisions are coherent (and so they are probably creating a better value, a bigger possibility to success).

I’m passionated about cooking, I’m really a great speaker, everybody loves to hear me and I feel that when I speak that’s my “moment”, and I’m paid to draw blueprints all day long.

How could I realize myself if my actions, feelings and DNA are going in three different directions?

Again: I’m passionated about dogs, I’m really good with animals and I can’t live without them, and I’m working as employee in a multinational company. Is that so wrong? Well… of course is not, because we all have to live and get money for it, but may be you could find a way to make your life more satisfying adding an hobby based on your wishes, or just trying to be an employee for a company that works in the pet market.

Then there’s your past. We often became sad because we can’t stand the fact that we waisted our energies (money and time) to achieve something that was wrong. This is really a mistake. If you get our lawyer degree your studies certainly made you a different person. May be it is just knowledge (even if I slighlty do not believe it), but what you are now is the results of everything you made in the past, studies included. And studies are never wasting of time.

Now is not the moment to think about a (possible) mistake made in the past (which I prefer to call it a less good decision, in this case). It is about how to make the best out of it now, using what you learned to create a better you in the future.

Changing patterns is a great way to find new possibilities. So I completely agree about your decision to take an year off on something completely different. Do not stop. Search again. May be you’ll found an NGO and thanks to your studies, you’ll have better chance to help more people.

Enjoy the ride!

Hello Andrea,

and thanks a

Hello Andrea,

and thanks a lot for your perspective… I have to say I agree with pretty much everything you said, but  hearing it from another person gives me a little more confidence, so thank you.

doing many things

hi di,

i have to comment because your story really strikes a chord! and i think it’s approaching 4 months since you wrote this and i’m really curious!!

i’ve actually trained for different things again and again. even at school i started one course and couldn’t bear the idea of not being able to do all the other things there. at that time it felt really unsettling and disturbing, but now, having qualifications in 3 different fields and not working in any of them, having tried 6 other different lines of work, and still exploring a new line, i think it’s just a part of who i am. while i regret not advancing vertically in my working life, i love all the horizontal knowledge, skills and ideas all these different things have given me. under some rules and forms of reckoning this may well seem like failure, but luckily for me i live by my own rules while i further think the future job market one is really going to fragment into how many different things can you do all at once to be resilient and keep finding a living somewhere or other.

regrouping and learning a thing or two sounds great - and where are you now?