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The M Dash

Live with purpose.

I Got My Dream Job…And Then Realized I Hated It

May 20, 2015

I decided what my dream job was at age 14. My grandma told me to “do what I love,” and I loved watching TV until my eyes hurt. I deemed myself a comedy nerd and started learning everything about television production. I planned the rest of my life around it: what college I went to, what internships I pursued, what friends I made. Everything went according to plan, and at age 24, I got the job. I had a plum production role on my favorite television show.

Um… now what?

I thought getting my dream job would bring me nirvana, but before long, I was more anxious than ever. I thought I would love the fast pace of production and interacting with writers. But when it became my responsibility to police the show’s schedule, I dreaded their last-minute rewrites. I used to get joy from reading through a script, but now I could only focus on the technical difficulty of producing it.

What’s more: I was exhausted. I started to question my entire life plan. TV devotees, please forgive me—suddenly television seemed like nonsense. The joy I got from watching it was nowhere to be found in producing it. Everything I worked so hard for now seemed silly. Was this really going to be my contribution to the world? I was at the job for nine months before I decided to leave. It wasn’t easy—I went into work about ten times planning to quit before I actually mustered up the confidence.

After abandoning “the dream,” I fell into the same old trap. I applied to a bunch of jobs that sounded impressive. My friends would think working in advertising was cool! My dad would be happy if I wrote tweets for a reputable company! But I still had no idea what I actually enjoyed doing on a day-to-day basis.

I started to do a lot of soul-searching, which in 2015, I think just means reading articles about how to achieve success and happiness. In particular, I liked the excerpt on prestige versus passion in this article:

Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like…

This resonated with me. Rather than chasing after jobs that sound good on paper, I’m taking time to think about how I actually want to use my days. I spent a lot of my life paralyzed by the pressure to achieve my (very rigid) “dream,” but letting it go was an important step forward. For the first time, I have no idea where I’ll be in ten years, and frankly, that’s liberating.

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Melissa studied communications at NYU and has been communicating ever since. She's the former programming coordinator at the New York Television Festival and has worked as a script coordinator and freelance writer on television and digital productions throughout New York. Read more of Melissa's posts.

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