Tuesday, December 4, 2012

On Feeling Lost

This past summer, I started my journey on a new career path. I have never felt so lost in my life.

The feeling I was most struck by was the sense that I knew nothing and had no direction. I felt inadequate, unprepared, and unskilled. I knew where I wanted to end up but I had absolutely no idea what was required to get there.

I wondered, then, why I hadn't felt that way when starting my career in biotech. Surely, as a professional in my thirties, I had at least some basic grasp of language and editing? Certainly much more than I had understood, as an 18-year-old undergrad, the finer points of biochemistry and genetics. So why hadn't I felt as lost and without direction in my teens as I did this summer?

The answer, once I found it, seemed simple: when I was eighteen, I expected to be lost and unskilled. I knew that I had no idea what I was doing, but I wasn't supposed to. Who, as a college freshman, is excepted to have all the skills and knowledge of a professional with ten years' industry experience? No one, of course.

The problem, then, wasn't that I was inept or unskilled, only inexperienced. Once I realized that, my panic about having no clue what to do next subsided.

I decided to join a local writers' group and begin a copyedting certification course online. The writers' group exposed me to other industry professionals and got my feet wet actually marking real copy. The online course taught me the basics of editing and gave me confidence that I could actually succeed because I now knew what I was doing.

In a few short months my outlook changed from sheer panic over having no idea what to do next to fierce determination to make things work and a plan to make that happen.

So if you're beginning a new career after years doing something else entirely and feel like you can't surmount any obstacles because you don't even recognize yet what your obstacles are, relax. You're not alone. Take a few deep breaths and remember that everyone has to start from scratch. Your journey has already begun.


  1. expected vice excepted

    Have you visited the Slug Tribe?

    1. Slug Tribe is the writers' group I mentioned. I haven't been going as often lately because I am fairly overloaded with class and other work. Maybe I can squeeze another meeting in during the break between courses.

    2. Good. I bet you get on well with Wendy. If you see Patrice at a meeting, tell her I say "Hi". Had a chance to read Matthew Bey's work?

      Any of 'em know you are my daughter?

    3. Honestly, I think I've only been to maybe four meetings. It's hard to match my free time to Slug Tribe meetings. But so far I've gotten along very well with everyone I've met, and even rescued an injured parrot once on the way to a meeting!

      I can't say the name Matthew Bey rings any bells. Might he write under a pseudonym?

      Your name hasn't come up. I'll be sure to mention you next time I go.

  2. Everything I have read by Matthew was written under his true name. Don't know if he published anything from "The Patchwork Kingdom" but those pieces are what I remember.

    You going to keep this blog going or transfer to https://sites.google.com/site/rubioedits/?

    1. I'll be keeping this. The website is more for contact info, and I'm certainly not savvy enough to figure out how to set up a blog within it. I like Blogger's format and it's easy to link to it. Plus, Google gives me stats on it!