One of my favorite past-times is looking for jobs. Of course, it’s only fun when I already have a job, which I do. I think I use it as an escape. A dream. The grass is always greener. Growing up, we were always told that we needed to decide on a career. As if there would only be one. I’ve already had 3 or 5 – and I’m only 30! And I’m still looking. Haven’t found “the one” yet. Sometimes I think I’m searching for my soul-mate career like other women are searching for their spouses. To be fair, I already have a spouse, so I have a lot more free-time for pondering and dreaming and searching.

As you may or may not know, I’m a teacher. Currently. Nearly every day, I talk to high school kids about what they want to do once they hit adulthood. Who do you want to be? What do you like to do? How will you make money? They don’t seem to realize yet that life is expensive. It’s so hard to impress upon them everything I want them to know. What would I tell my 15-year-old self?

Dear angsty younger me,

The search will be long, so start now! Stop half-assing your ideas, and actually learn about the careers you are supposedly interested in. Learn what the day-to-day is like. Learn what education is required. Learn how much it pays – sure you won’t understand that $25,000 is not actually a lot of money, but if you start comparing it to other career salaries… maybe you’ll figure it out.

Go shadow someone who does that thing. Job-shadowing and interviewing isn’t just a trivial assignment given to you in middle school and high school – it’s critical. The only way to really learn about a career is to go talk to someone who does it. And then, take it all with a grain of salt. Remember, you didn’t talk to 100 people, you only talked to one. You might love what that person hates.

Figure out how to make money. And start making money right away. Life costs way more than you expect – unless you’re one of those people that likes to couch-surf and eat ramen. But I know you – you’re not that type. You like pillow-top beds, concerts, traveling, and buying shit.. You will need money.

Make a goddamn budget. Not while you’re still in high school, but as soon as you start paying your own bills. Write all of your bills down. Write down everything else you spend money on. Subtract all of that from how much money you are bringing in. You should have some left over to put in your savings account. If not, then you need to spend less.

Do not overdraft your bank account. Not sure what that means? Google it. Then talk to your bank and find out more.

Build a savings account that you can use for emergencies and “emergencies.” Do not get a credit card. You will use it for non-emergencies. Guaranteed. And then you’ll use it more. And then you’ll be in debt and have to make a whole new budget for getting out of debt.

Don’t save every penny. If you save all of your money, that means you’re not having enough fun. Give yourself an “allowance” out of your paycheck that you can use on fun stuff. Travel. Shop. Go to shows. Go to bars. Live your life.

Buy a decent car. Not a new one. Just a good one. Look at Consumer Reports ratings. Fuck it, I know you won’t take the time to look, so just listen to me: buy a Toyota Corolla (whatever you do, don’t buy that Cadillac your boyfriend loves). It will save you so much money and stress.

Listen to people when they tell you to get an internship. It’s just a good fucking idea. It’s a chance for you to test out different career paths and find what you are interested in. It’s a chance for you to meet cool people and important people. Most importantly, it might lead to a fucking job, which you will need.

Talk to your professors in college. Ask them about life. Ask them about careers. Ask them about opportunities. You will learn so much and might find a job.

Yes, it all comes back to the job – and the money. You can keep telling people that you’ll figure it out and that everything will fall into place. And yeah, it will. Eventually. But you might find your calling a whole lot sooner if you take advantage of your resources. It is the curse of the young to not listen to the advice of the experienced. But I guess that’s part of the journey.

Enjoy every minute!

Be intentional.

Future You