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You @ 25: Prioritizing the Human over the Grind

ROI Solutions | You @ 25 Colleen Cooke

To write this post, I had to check what year it was, do some quick math, and remember where my birthday lands in the year. Apparently, at 25, I was fresh out of grad school and a few months into a job where I wouldn’t even last a year. But I was eager to prove myself and insecure (emotionally and financially), so jumped on the first offer I got and ignored all the signs along the way that it wasn’t a good fit.

When I was let go, all my years of striving and hustling and achieving felt wasted. My sense of self was shaken, and I thought there must have been something wrong with me. The world shutting down due to COVID-19 shortly after, in March 2020, didn’t help. I shipped off job applications and held informational interviews from the couch of a tiny rental that I shared with my spouse and two dogs. Tiger King was probably playing in the background. 

Ultimately, I went back to the nonprofit sector, took a pay cut, and went through what I call “dog years” of learning a bunch on the job and growing my confidence. In addition to those professional changes, the pre-vaccine COVID times taught me to slow way down. I had gotten so used to an environment that was fast-paced and cutthroat with lots of travel. I glamorized “the grind” (waking up early to be the first one in and last one out, only being home on the weekends, being so anxious and busy that I didn’t eat lunch) to the point that I forgot to be human. Today, I have a beautiful life outside of work and am so grateful for a company that allows me to be a whole person. At ROI Solutions, I am proud of the work I do. I respect my colleagues and love our clients. But what I love most is that we prioritize being “human” above all else.

I’ve included two photos that are very emblematic of me at 25 versus me today. Granted, one is a professional headshot, and the other is a selfie I took to commemorate my new ROI Solutions swag, but both are me! A smart, hardworking, passionate human. You can almost feel the uncertainty and anxiety coming through the first picture, and my present self wants to tell her that she can relax and breathe! Everything is going to be ok. All her efforts to make a situation work that wasn’t, desperate to fit in, were part of the journey – very soon, she will find her groove and her people. 

And please remember to eat lunch!

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