Just keep climbing

Once, a long time ago, I wrote about the first full-time job offer I ever got. After months of really soul-deflating job applications and a scant handful of interviews that led nowhere, I was offered a job that I knew I could not put my heart into. I had an idea of where I wanted to go, and this job would absolutely not lead me there.

So I said no to a decently-paying gig with no other prospects on the horizon. I just had to believe that something else would come along. I knew that as a recent college grad, I wasn’t going to land my dream job right away, but I wasn’t about to waste my time and energy on something that wouldn’t, as Neil Gaiman said so eloquently in that speech that I will just not shut up about, get me closer to the mountain.

Shortly(ish) after this first offer I got another, at an ad agency, which was exactly where I thought I should be at the time. And it did move me toward that mountain–while, perhaps most importantly–illuminating that my dream job was not “account executive at an ad agency.”

After giving higher ed another go, I found myself in a situation that was all too familiar and still as disconcerting: I had to get myself employed again, while moving closer to my mountain than ever. Grad school gave me plenty of tools to climb it once I got there, and I never lost sight of it while working through my degree, but now it was time to nut up.

Which is why I moved across the country to a place with a fuller job market in my industry. Without a job lined up. It’s why I’ve taken a part-time internship that has been at times exciting and discouraging while continuing to search for something closer to what I know I’m meant to do. It’s why I’ve been so careful about what I apply for and why I search every week for something better.

Of course, there are times you just have to take what you can get. Its also pretty imperative to have someone amazing by your side to support you financially and emotionally. Having come through this once is helping me push through the fear and the what-if-this-isn’t-going-to-happens.es.

And in case you find yourself in a similar situation, looking for a way to get to your mountain or up to that peak, let me be your cheerleader: just keep climbing! Keep going. You WILL make it. You deserve to make it. You’re allowed to feel sad about rejections and you’re allowed to be discouraged about how far you have yet to go every now and then. It SUCKS to feel stuck, to not be moving in the right direction. But you’re not allowed to give up.

Graphic saying "Follow your God damn dreams"

For me, it’s been a scary, depressing, thrilling, and soul-searching journey–and it’s not over yet–but I keep reminding myself that an opportunity is out there, waiting for me at Base Camp #1. And maybe, just maybe, a victory cake is waiting for me at the peak.



Covered in fucking gold.


  • Aubrey says:

    You have to pursue what will ultimately help you become the person you want to be! And sometimes that means times of uncertainty, times of frugality, finding balance with your partner and taking turns… you’re doing it right.

    Don’t get discouraged. Ever. Because while I’m not always great at keeping in touch, I’m following your story and rooting for you every step of the way.

  • Thomas says:

    I have to say that I am really conflicted about the whole issue. Exactly one year ago, I completely upended my stagnant life to get back on track. Occasionally, I pine over the last few years of my life and I start to wonder where I might be had I kept my focus.

    But the truth is, I wouldn’t be in the same place. Had I pursued the mountain this whole time, I wouldn’t be doing the kinds of things that I find myself drawn to now. That meandering shaped me in such a way that… my vision is much bigger. I have seen the mountain from all sides. I appreciate and revere the mountain in ways that I never had before. I had to first lose myself to learn who I really was.

    I suppose what I am saying is that, even when you aren’t headed up the mountain, you can still make progress toward that goal – and in ways that you wouldn’t have expected.

    • jtal says:

      That is an excellent point and very well said! I spent a number of years trying to figure out whether I was going towards the right mountain or not, and as I got closer to what I thought was my mountain I realized it wasn’t really the one for me. It does make it that much sweeter when you figure out what your true path is.

  • Geng says:

    “Of course, there are times you just have to take what you can get. ”

    At this point now.

    But I will keep climbing. 🙂

    • jtal says:

      Geng, I think you are going to skip the whole ‘working for other people’ and invent some product or business that is desperately needed and you will become a millionaire!

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