Wednesday, April 9, 2008

A Working Girl in the Insurance Capital of the World

'A Working Girl in the ...' is a post written by a contributing writer that appears on Working Girl twice a month. This week's post was written by a Working Girl from Hartford, Connecticut about her career in the world of insurance.

When my good friends WG1 and WG2 asked that I be the first of many contributors to their ever-growing blog, I must admit my intimidation. While I share their love of writing, reading, and all things blogospheric, I don't quite lead the glamorous life they do. I say this because while they're busy climbing the working girl ladder in New York City, I'm stuck in central Connecticut with one foot still firmly planted on the ground.

Last May I left college with a degree in creative writing, multiple internships in publishing under my belt, a very unfortunate beer belly, and not one clue as to what I'd be doing when I left. It's been ten months now, and my fancy resume, (almost) disappeared beer belly, and I have somehow landed in the tan cubicle of an insurance company in the city of Hartford. I told you it wasn't so glamorous.

When I was a senior in high school I made a strict itinerary for the next ten years of my life. A year in California, two years abroad, a novel by age 28, and so on and so forth. Fast forward five years and half-way through my timeline and all that's fully crossed off my list is graduating college. The truth is that I spent so much time dreaming when I was younger that I never thought that maybe, just maybe, reality was going to kick in. And man alive, did it kick me in the ass.

I suppose I could have made the move to the Big Apple. I suppose I could have even moved in with Working Girls Uno and Dos (ladies? yes? no? maybe?). After all, New York does offer far more opportunities in editing and writing than Connecticut. And I mean
far more, like a 20:1 ratio. But the truth is that (and I know this is going to sound blasphemous to some of your little ears) I don't like New York - not one bit. I interned in Lincoln Center during my senior year and it just didn't do it for me. It's chic and exciting for some, but claustrophobic and chaotic for me.

So where does this all leave moi? That's pretty much what I'm trying to figure out. I'll regretfully mention again that I've been working for an insurance company for the past 6 months. In that time span I've looked into dozens of apartments, been in correspondence with multiple European landlords, contacted numerous potential "flatmates" in Ireland, began the registration process for more than one African volunteer group, looked up Hawaiian real-estate, and convinced myself out of quitting my God-awful, car-sickening job at least a hundred times.

When it comes down to it, I just want to have a job that makes me happy. My best friend once told me during my post-college despair that being overwhelming happy with your 9 to 5 isn't necessarily the most crucial part of life. If you're happy with your personal life and not completely miserable with work, then consider yourself a success. I have a sneaky suspicion she was just trying to make me feel better about all the insurance job interviews I had lined up (I mean, really Connecticut? Really? You have nothing else to offer but insurance?). Either way, it worked.

As it stands now, I'm slowly beginning to piece together what I'm meant to do. I want to write, I know that. I want to have a career that let's me be creative, I know that too. And I want to travel, and learn to surf, and open a store, and move to the beach, and become an interior designer, and have a gazillion children, and all of those delicious things. But for now, while I'm 23 and paying loans up the wazoo and living with my Mum and Dad, I'll accept working at an insurance company. I have open house for grad school coming up, and it looks like becoming the next great (emphasis on great) high school English teacher might (another emphasis on might) be in the cards for me. Then I'll have time to get my MFA in fiction writing so I can try to trump J.K. Rowling.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, maybe if only to convince myself of it, is that not being 100% on track with your future career is more than okay - it's normal. You just need to stay on track, otherwise you'll for sure end up hating life. So, as I continue to chip away my mountain of loans with my terrible, horrible insurance job (which I am on the path to replacing, btw), I'll also go home and write a little and, should I decide to, go to class to get my Masters.

And in between the interviews and short-stories and applications, I'll remember to not lose site of the list I made for myself 5 years ago. It's a tricky little balance, teeter-tottering between hoop-dreams and responsibilities, but hot-damn I plan on fulfilling what I set out for myself in high school...even if it takes me till I'm wrinkled and drinking prune juice to complete it.


Megan said...

Your list of dreams from high school sounds almost identical to what I fantasize about on a daily basis. Go big or go home working girl!

Anonymous said...

I say don't settle until you are happy. If you don't like insurance, find a way to do what you want to do.

CC said...

I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one frustrated with my dreams not coming true the second I graduated college. I too want to write, travel the world and live a happy, fun existence doing exactly what I love. The trouble is figuring out what that is, and how to find it. ....

Suspicous Eyes said...

I LOVED YOUR ARTICLE! I too know what it's like to have big dreams that feel unreachable...

All my life I've struggled with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) which has held me back in many ways - both culinary and otherwise. Someday I'll travel the world and enjoy the fine dining I always dream of. In the mean time I stick to bland foods and work on my other dreams such as interior design and business management.