I remember looking out the window as the plane took off and felt this feeling of sadness that slowly transitioned to tears. I tried to cover it up from the passenger next to me but I could tell that she knew.
An Emotional Epiphany
I was home in New York for less than 24 hours, which was just enough time for me to go to the doctor, grab lunch at my favorite Korean barbecue place with with my mom, and walk through the busy streets of the City that I have come to miss.
Between studying and traveling abroad for five months and working at Southwest Airlines for another three, I realized that the last time I spent more than two nights at home was last Christmas. Almost eight months ago.
Growing Up Too Fast
I am slowly recognizing that I am growing up faster than I could possibly imagine. As I work to build my resume, gain more experience, and travel to new places, I feel like I’m overwhelmed.
In just a few months, I will officially be a graduate of the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University. Me? A college graduate? How did that happen? It felt like it was just yesterday that I moved in to Flint Hall as a freshman and felt nervous and excited at the same time.
Going back even further, I miss the summers when my only responsibility was to make sure I tidy up my bed, take a shower, and eat.
Coping with Adulting
Last summer at my internship at Ogilvy, we designed a digital campaign that centered around how adulting sucks. Because it does.
Worrying about paying the rent, waking up early, making project deadlines, drinking enough water, and maintaining your social life can be a handful. But I guess I take comfort with the fact that everyone else is going through the same things.
My weekly one-on-one meetings with my manager in particular have been extremely helpful. I take this time to update her with my projects, my plethora of worries, stresses, and share my personal life updates. In a fast-paced and often overwhelming corporate world, this feels extremely comforting simply to be heard and acknowledged.
Our carpool commute back home with my roommate and my friends are usually spent telling each other how our days went, share what we accomplished, what we’re worried about, and our travel plans for the weekend. In many ways, simply talking to my manager and my friends have helped me tremendously and made things a little less overwhelming.
Finding a New Home in Texas
Despite my worries, I am fortunate to wake up every morning and feel excited about going to work at a place I genuinely love. I live in an apartment with two other Southwest interns, Zac and Hudson, who became my closest friends this summer.
I have traveled to places like Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, Mexico, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon on the weekends which made every week much more exciting and adventurous.
Most importantly, I feel like the work I do is exciting and challenging. My manager and my team that are also caring, supportive, and never fail to always make me feel like I am creating meaningful impact. I even feel like I have finally gotten used to the Texas heat because as I learned, Northeast humidity in the summer feels worse.
The Fear of Failing
At the iSchool, I went on two immersion trips that took us to the Silicon Valley and the Pacific Northwest. During these trips, we visited companies like Google, Airbnb, Boeing, and Microsoft and spoke to successful alumni who shared their wisdom and knowledge.
No matter where they ended up and what career path they took, one advice remained the same: do what you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life. As cliche as that sounds, it bears plenty of meaning and sums up how I feel about this summer.
I guess what ultimately scares me the most is the realization that I am actually doing what I love. My check list for my dream job include:
- Work for an airline
- Utilize my major in some form or another
- Work with fun, loving, and genuine people
- Travel for fun and travel for work, often.
- Something new and exciting every week.
- Live in a state where income tax isn’t as high as New York’s
As a rising senior in college, I have already checked all those boxes with this internship. Aren’t I supposed to take a serendipitous, winding, and confusing road to get here? Have I really reached my peak? Where do I go from here? What if I mess it up? Am I even worthy of being at Southwest?
In many ways, my dream job has kept me up at night because I am filled with gratitude and also worry. I am worried because I have been presented with this incredible opportunity and I don’t want to fail. I am sure that there is a lesson to be learned somewhere that failing in adulthood is a good thing. But I guess that’s the trouble of growing up: I still have so much to learn.
But for now, I am comforted by the fact that every time I enter through the doors at Southwest, I feel this incredible sense of belonging. The same feeling holds true every time I look out the window when I fly. With every bit of me, I can genuinely say that there is no other industry that I’d rather spend the rest of my life in, and I guess that in itself is half the battle.