When I decided I didn't want to get a full-time, permanent job right after college, I was going against the grain. Did I have a fear of commitment? Yes. I thought I knew what I wanted up until middle of my senior year, when I realized that this would be the perfect time to travel and explore other options.
A year of experiences is not a year lost
By working as a group leader for high school conferences, I realized I enjoyed working with students. And when I was living in Italy, I was also working and traveling with study abroad students. While I wanted to work in those jobs for the duties the jobs had themselves (and, of course, travel and live in new cities), it made me realize I wanted to incorporate education into my future career.
Traveling and working those jobs didn't make me "behind" my peers in my job search. It can be difficult to not compare yourself to others, but everyone is on a different journey. What might be right for them isn't necessarily what's right for you.
While I was a little unsure of what I wanted, I knew what I didn't want - to work in a permanent job right after college. I wanted to travel. During the past year or so, I realized that (besides travel, of course) the education aspect was important to me. I wasn't "wasting" a year by doing the things I did, rather, those experiences led me to the job I have today.
But getting a full-time, permanent job in higher education can be difficult, especially for someone who doesn't have a master's degree and/or many years of experience (aka me).
Do not settle.
If you think it's not right for you, listen to your gut instincts.
I did interviews for jobs and felt bad because I realized I wouldn't want to work there even if I did get the offer. Sometimes it went both ways and I would get the rejection email (or no email at all). Sometimes it would be something I really wanted...and I wouldn't get it. But I kept going, because I was determined to get a job in higher education.
When I received an offer for something I wasn't entirely on board with, I would politely decline. I didn't want to be spending 40+ hours a week doing something not fulfilling when I knew there were opportunities out there that would be fulfilling.
When nothing goes right, go left
Maybe that one "dream" opportunity didn't work out, but that doesn't mean that there aren't other opportunities that are just as great.
I didn't get a social media job for a company in the town I went to school in after graduation. If I had gotten it, I probably would've taken it. But that means I never would've been able to work at leadership conferences or lived in Italy last year - experiences that made me realize that (at least for now) I want to work in education.
When I returned from Italy I didn't get a job that I really wanted. I interviewed with them two separate times and went through five rounds of interviews each time. However, if I had gotten that job, I wouldn't have started working at a restaurant in the meantime (where I met awesome people and learned some new skills) or have gotten my current job working at a university now (which I really enjoy).
When other people drag you down, don't give up
After my job hunt got a little lengthy, I started to get stir crazy. Trust me, last year was a roller coaster of emotions and filled with questioning everything. I knew the type of job I wanted and I was ready to just get it.
This is where the pressure from other people came in. They would say, "You're not supposed to like your job. You need to keep your head down, get a few years of experience under your belt, and maybe then you can actually do what you love. No one loves their first few jobs right out of college." I had multiple people tell me this.
And I need to say: THEY ARE WRONG. Do not settle for a life that's less capable than the one you want to live. Other people are going to be in your ear giving you crap "advice" telling you to take a job you hate just for money - while they sit at their desks miserable with their own jobs.
I don't know about you, but if I'm going to be working 40+ hours a week and sitting in rush hour traffic twice a day, I sure as hell need to enjoy what I'm doing.
Life is meant to be lived. We only get one life and there's no sense in delaying gratification for the hope that someday, fifty years from now, we might get to enjoy it. Enjoy it now. Don't give up. And don't settle.