We all experience transitional phases within life and in turn have felt confusion, doubt and stress. And more than likely, we each have also second-guessed our decisions and felt pressure from others’ opinions. In my recent conversation with Eden Fried, she shares how she recently navigated her way through a difficult decision and brings insight to the first step, or monumental leap, that most undergo after college. I know you will enjoy her fresh perspective and newly gained wisdom.
Be You and Thrive (BY&T): Eden our focus on transitional phases in life (yours specifically after college) intrigues me. In my brief research on the subject, I came upon some pretty informative articles. One write up suggests a ‘Quarter Life Crisis,’  referring to the transition from college to ‘adulthood.’ The comments after the article include various thoughts from post-college grads such as, “I am going through this right now,” and “I have been struggling with this problem for over six months.” And an article written in The Huffington Post focuses on facts about life after school that every student should prepare for and states, ‘Balancing life’s demands is an art.’
Eden Fried (EF): I did not anticipate the level of duress that I would experience during this time of my life. I have always felt like a very confident person and I didn’t go through a lot of the self-esteem issues that teenage girls often experience. When I went to college I started to panic a bit because I thought there would be a light bulb moment when I would know ‘what I wanted to do when I grow up.’ And I realized, ‘oh my gosh it’s never coming!’ And so I began making sporadic decisions—‘I’m going to try this and I’m going do that.’
I feel like everyone is under the impression that you’re just going to suddenly, one day know what direction you’re going to head in and you’re going to be confident in that decision. What I have learned, is that for most people this is absolutely not true. While some people do know where they’re headed, many other people struggle because they don’t know where they’re going.
BY&T: After graduating from college you felt unsure of what you wanted to do next. You began working for your father’s business. On your website you share, “Work wasn’t satisfying me quite the way I expected it would and I wanted more.” Within six months you ended up applying to 12 different law schools and were accepted. You describe, “My seat deposit is paid, my apartment in Brooklyn is secured, and I’m set to begin classes this August.”
And in June, you chose otherwise.
Since making the decision not to attend law school, you’ve developed an online freelance writing and website design business. You are also blogging about topics that relate to your transitional experiences after college, to help others who may be going through similar situations.
In one of your blog posts you use a quote from E.L. Konigsburg that says,
Before you can be anything, you have to be yourself. That’s the hardest thing to find.”
Will you share your thoughts on the importance of being yourself?
EF: I was talking to my brother who lives in Eastern Europe. (He is one of my mentors and inspirations). He called my bluff and said, “Eden, it’s okay if you don’t really want to do this. No one is going to judge you if you back out now.” I was totally not ready to hear it at that time and responded by saying, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. You don’t really know me.” We got into a bit of a sibling argument about it and moved on.
Eventually, I realized that he was actually right. I think I was dealing with a lot of self-induced pressure to live up to my father’s ‘expectations.’ He is one of the most understanding people in the world. If I really would’ve sat down and thought about this before I applied to law school, I absolutely would have come to the realization that he’s going to support me no matter what. (I’m very lucky to have parents that support me unconditionally). But I wanted to be the type of person that he was really proud of and could relate to.
It took me a long time to come to terms with the reality that I wanted to do something for myself, not for anyone else. That’s the first thing about learning to be content with yourself —realizing that you’re going to have to set goals and aspirations that won’t necessarily align with other people—even with the people that will always be in your corner.
BY&T: Through your experience you described indecision as one of the challenges you experienced and then went on to define it. You said, “Indecision is okay (and completely normal) but being honest with yourself is more important. There are a ton of voices in life but only one voice really matters.” Can you describe your thoughts on this?
EF: It really comes down to what kind of life am I going to be happy living. Is it my life or is it my life as it should be in someone else’s eyes? What I’m doing right now might not be the ideal situation for another person, but for me it’s fulfilling. I’d rather live my day-to-day life feeling happy with the decisions that I’ve made, than feeling like I’ve made decisions based on what someone else thinks.
BY&T: You’re well beyond your years, Eden. (We share some laughter). We can all use a reminder to listen to ourselves, ‘our voice,’ more often. You talked about taking on your insecurities in one of your blog posts and you share that instead of taking them on, “…you chose otherwise.” What did you learn about doubting yourself that you’ll be reminded of next time you come across these similar feelings?
EF: I think there’s always going to be feelings of insecurity at any point in my life, so for me it’s just learning to move through them. I just recently wrote another blog about being a passive bystander in life.
I would rather be steering myself in the direction I want to go in, whether I feel doubt or feel that I’m not strong enough, because at least I’m deciding where I want to go. I don’t necessarily feel confident with everything that I’m doing and I still have insecurities, but I definitely feel like I’m headed in the right direction. I guess you could say I’m “lost” in the right direction.”
BY&T: I read that blog post and loved it. There is a quote you shared that I especially enjoyed, “We can all take ownership of our own lives, even if that’s by taking little tiny baby steps in the right direction. We can all make moves to be better, happier people. We can all put in the work to shape and mold our lives to be more fulfilling.”
This is a powerful quote. When we take ownership of our lives we truly experience freedom. A topic that flows well with taking ownership is how we deal with the opinions of others. What advice can you share from your experience regarding how to deal with others’ opinions?
EF: The positive voices are always going to be louder than the negative ones. Just remembering this is going to help anyone who is trying to get through a difficult experience. I still encounter those that judge me for my decision. I respond with a smile and some kind words. And then I move on knowing that I’m content with what I’m doing. I have enough confidence in myself to know that I’m okay with my decisions—even if someone else isn’t.
BY&T: When you look back at the transition you went through, do you feel you were overly hard on yourself?
EF: Absolutely! When I look back at the past two years since I graduated college and realize that if I was truly honest with myself at the time, I would have started doing what I’m doing now two years ago. And that’s just because I realize now that I was really pushing myself in a direction that I wasn’t supposed to go in. With that said, I don’t regret any of the decisions that I’ve made. I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you or with others about where I am now if I’d traveled down a different road. If I didn’t have those experiences leading up to this, I would be a different person.
BY&T: Experiences do mold us in life and help us to become the person that we are—which ends up being a pretty cool blessing. Speaking of blessings, we all have people within our lives that have helped us through difficulty and in times of need. Who has been a mentor of yours and why do you think having mentors are important?
EF: I mentioned that my brother is a mentor of mine. But there is also my mom. I think a lot of women can relate to their mom being a mentor to them. When I first told her that I was applying to law school she supported me 100%, but noted that in our entire conversation I never once said that I really wanted to be a lawyer! There’s always going to be a few people in your life that know you better than you think they do. You know yourself best, of course—but they do know you very well.
I’ve also started doing meetings with one of my closest friends that we call, ‘An Accountability Meeting.’ We have our own individual goals that we set for each week and at the end of the week we call each other for 30 minutes and touch base on what we’ve achieved and what we need to improve on. It’s amazing and extremely helpful to have someone to lean on. I absolutely think that this is important.
BY&T: Terrific accountability idea. As we close our conversation, do you have any takeaways from your experience that you would like to share?
EF: Life is supposed to be a lot of different exciting experiences and I think we often get wrapped up into the busy day-to-day things that we think we have to do and we lose focus on the things that we want to do. We get to choose what we want to do and the tasks that we set for ourselves. Keeping this in mind, people can really change their perspective on their daily life and take control over the direction that they’re going. Your choices come from within yourself.
Connect with Eden Fried: www.edenfried.com
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