When I went to college, I was undecided in a major and, frankly, my career path in general. It just seemed like such a big decision to choose what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, because, in reality, it was easier to ask what I did NOT want to do with it. My first year of college was such a kaleidoscope of courses that my dad would like to tease me, “So what major are you this week?” I would start down one path, only to find another that intrigued me just as much. There were just so many things that interested me! I spent hours trying to get as much information as possible about every career and major out there. I’m pretty sure I was driving myself close to madness, because I’m a planner and always will be. I like to have a strategy, a goal, a direction; but instead, I had nothing except ideas and maybes.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I stumbled across a career that really caught my attention: urban planning. The official definition is “a technical and political process concerned with the control of the use of land and design of the urban environment, including transportation networks, to guide and ensure the orderly development of settlements and communities,” and for me, it was the perfect fit. It involved all the things I wanted to surround myself with, from art and architecture to economics and sustainability. From then on, I finally had a plan. I spent the rest of my college career dedicated to the goal of graduating with an Economics major and a minor in City & Regional Planning, and then attending Michigan State University afterward to get my master’s degree in Urban Planning. Unfortunately, we all know how those plans work out …
I did graduate Grand Valley with those degrees, and I still would like to get my master’s in Urban Planning, but life isn’t so cut-and-dry anymore. Not only did I find a job I love with some pretty wonderful people surrounding me every day, but also my student loans are minuscule compared to the average college grad, I love the city of Grand Rapids, and I have a gorgeous apartment minutes from work and downtown. So now I find myself in another conundrum … Do I really want to drop all this and uproot myself to a new place? Is it really worth taking out thousands more in student loans? Do I really want to risk the chance of not finding a place to work and live as great as the ones I have now? For the past four years of my life, I had a plan. This plan. I was to leave Grand Rapids and pursue this career path, but now, I’m not so sure. I feel as if I’m back at square one, back at freshman year of college without a plan, back at … frustration.
Now I’m staring at the drawing board for a second time, and as much as I want to say I’m equally as scared and stressed as the first time, surprisingly, I’m not. This time I’m more aware of what I want and the opportunities out there. While there still is some apprehension, there’s also excitement knowing not everything is so defined as I once thought. Not everything has to be achieved with a degree. Instead, I can get creative and look for solutions to achieving what I want, without sacrificing what I already have. So until I find out exactly what that solution is, HERE’S TO THE FUTURE!
Devyn Quick is the circulation coordinator for West Michigan Woman magazine. She is originally from Harbor Springs, Michigan, and she recently graduated from Grand Valley State University. Devyn enjoys painting, crafts, reading, and exploring the great outdoors.