Limiting your dreams and keeping yourself constrained to a box can be unhealthy. By doing so, you’ll have a hard time reaching your full potential.
But with social media constantly projecting the “get Instafamous quick” scheme, it’s hard not to compare yourself to the fourteen-year-olds who already have six-figure bank accounts. We see the age of obtaining wealth and fame get progressively younger. Gone are the days of being an entrepreneur at thirty and settling down with a family at forty.
This pressure of trying to catch the wave of being famous before twenty-one is toxic, but it’s one we’ve all experienced. As a college student, I see young YouTubers being sponsored by brands I admire incredibly and always support. Yet, to these brands, I am just another consumer. The still-in-high-school YouTubers are being whisked away to Bora Bora, while I am job hunting for a summer internship on Indeed. Aside from the social media pressure, in the college world, there are also high stakes to have a job in place after graduation.
I graduate from college in June of this year. Some peers already have international jobs in place for them. Others are establishing their freelancing business or are going to work for local companies. Me…? I’m still undefined. I spent a lot of my winter semester applying to huge corporations like CNN, HLN, and Turner Broadcasting. I attend school in Atlanta, Georgia, so the opportunities are endless. However, as the rejection letters rolled in, I began to ask myself, “did I bite off more than I could chew?”
I believe that timing is everything. While working at a well-known corporation to give me that industry experience right out of college is ideal, I just don’t think I’m ready right now. I know my value and my worth. I know my skill set, and who I am. But maybe CNN just isn’t in my cards at this moment. I visited the CNN Center in Downtown Atlanta last week and allowed myself to daydream about what it would be like to work there. I suddenly felt overwhelmed. I imagined the newsroom being hectic and chaotic with fast-approaching deadlines and lack of sleep. A fun experience, yes, but I think I’d need some time to relax after four years of college.
I found that maybe I should start slow. I narrowed my job search down to small companies in the Atlanta area that may have needed a photographer. On my job-search journey, I realized that everyone starts somewhere. Turner Broadcasting wasn’t an overnight success. Quite frankly, YouTube success isn’t instant either. Everyone begins at 0. I shouldn’t write off the little guys just because they’re not famous yet. You never know the potential someone or something could achieve just by looking at them. (With that being said, you do have to be careful. People do tend to prey on college students that are simply looking to get on their feet and are willing to take anything.)
Starting small doesn’t mean dreaming small. Supporting local businesses is incredibly important to me. Everyone deserves a first chance. At the beginning of the month, I submitted my application to Paper Magazine, a fashion and culture magazine I’ve dreamt of working at since I started college. It’s based in New York, and while I don’t think I’m selling myself short and thinking “there’s no way they’d hire me,” I have to consider all of my options.
Earlier, a smaller opportunity fell into my lap. The chance to sell my work at a local museum back home in Baltimore came to me through Instagram. I immediately submitted my work. Now, I’m just waiting to hear back. A few hours after that, I found out that my submission for an upcoming art magazine was accepted.
On this journey, I’ve learned that not every egg laid is golden. Not everything that you apply for is meant for you. But we shouldn’t rule out the opportunities that others may overlook just because they aren’t well-known.
Also published on Medium.