I spent my whole Saturday at the Sentry Towers attending Her Campus’ first National Intercollegiette Conference, ducking and weaving in between panels trying to grasp anything and everything people advised. Overall, pretty great experience complete with Anna Post, Ann Shoket, and a whole truckload of editors and writers who made me reflect on everything career-wise.
But it was something said in the first panel I attended that really got me thinking. Sorry to all the Seventeen fans who wanted to hear about Ann Shoket, I promise I’ll post about her speech later.
So I’m sitting in the second row of “From Hobby to Business: How to Make Your Blog a Powerhouse,” completely tuned in to Olivia Gossett (ILoveWhatYouWear.com) and Connie Wang (Refinery29) elaborate on their experiences trying to get their sites off the ground. I’m completely tuned in, taking notes, fawning over how great Taylor Chartier was moderating everything, and then this question came up:
“When did you know you were where you wanted to be?”
That’s when I really sat up.
Olivia and Connie kind of smiled at each other since, well, that’s a pretty hard question to answer. When Connie didn’t say anything, Olivia answered:
“I think it’s when you know you’re happy doing what you’re doing.”
That’s when I sat up straighter and went, “Hold up!”
By the way, I didn’t actually say that out loud. Would’ve been embarrassing.
When did you know you were where you wanted to be? This was hands-down the best question of the entire conference, and I honestly, truly believe that because it was the reason why I was there, why 200 other college girls were there, why all these panelists got to where they are today.
And also the question that got me most conflicted with myself and everything I was doing.
Where you want to be is a question that has to do with success, and success isn’t a black and white thing. It’s this multicolored, pixelated thing that is red white blue green yellow whatever depending on every person and it changes for us all the time, changes all the time until we just get so confused and need to redirect where we’re headed.
But if what we see as success changes all the time, is the answer to where we want to be really when we’re happy doing what we’re doing? What makes us happy changes all the time, too, our preferences and wants and needs are constantly rotating in and out and out and in, so was Olivia’s answer really the most accurate?
She’s got a point, but I think the answer is more so something like this: “When you stop wanting more.”
I do believe a difference exists between being happy and wanting more. You can definitely be happy, but you can definitely be happy and want more at the same time. I know a lot of you are probably thinking, “But Annie, are you truly happy if you keep wanting more?” My answer is yes, you definitely can be. Think of all those moments in your life when you were happy with something, happy with where you were in life. But did that stop you from wanting more? And did wanting more make you unhappy? Not necessarily.
It’s like how now, I’m truly happy with being a student at UChicago and an intern Mediaite. But that hasn’t stopped me from wanting more. I’m happy with being a student at UChicago, but I want to be a journalism grad student at Columbia. I’m happy interning with Mediaite, but I ultimately want to be working for a big news organization.
In other words, I’m truly happy with what I’m doing right now. But I keep wanting more, which means that I’m not where I want to be yet. By Olivia’s definition, I would be where I want to be right now. However, that’s not the case. Olivia does have a point when she says happiness is a big indicator since you will also be happy when you stop wanting more, but I felt her criteria needed to be more specific.
Granted, her answer does work if you took “where you wanted to be” to mean “where you wanted to be at this point in your life.” I guess it’s all about how you interpret the question and I’m not sure how the two panelists understood it to be.
I might actually shoot Olivia an email and ask for specifics. Hopefully that wouldn’t be too obnoxious?
At that moment, I also realized one other thing: the purpose of this blog will constantly change as well. I want to be a reporter, we all know that by now (if you didn’t, you may just want to read through the blog a little more carefully). But that’s such a vague statement, such an ill-defined want. So I want to be a reporter, but where do I want to be in that realm? Where do I want to stand?
Hmm, where do I want to stand?
All l I know is that I’m 20 and have the rest of my life to figure that out. Thank you Taylor for the question, thank you Olivia for the answer, and a double thanks to Olivia for opening my eyes, making me realize that I should constantly redefine what I’m doing.