“So what are your plans for after graduation?”
From estranged relatives to prospective employers, this is the only question I have dreaded being asked this past year.
Now, to be fair I’m not completely lost — from idyllic positions to potential fields, I more or less know the path I want to take. But as I’ve sat here at Zoom University finishing my degree, I’ve realized I don’t know exactly where I’m headed next.
And it feels like I’m running out of time.
At the ripe old age of 22, I often feel like I’m failing before I’ve even begun. People tell me that I’m “still in school” and I’ll “have time to figure it out.” But every week that diploma creeps closer and closer, yet I still haven’t had the clouds-parting-revelation moment where the destined plan for my life is revealed.
The pandemic peeled back the curtain of the modern workforce, shifting the preconceived notion that success can only exist in one form. But with the rise of side gigs and hustle culture in the past year (in addition to that ever-present capitalistic pressure to succeed), people younger and younger are finding career- and financial-related success. These individuals then become the ‘example’ to those who are still lost.
We’ve been told since the day we started kindergarten that once you graduate from your studies you have to run head first into a career where you will stay until the release of retirement — and if we don’t immediately jump into the deep end, it somehow acts as a reflection of our intelligence and work ethic.
But for a lot of us, it’s not that we’re unmotivated — we just don’t know where to put that motivation.
What I’ve learned is that your twenties are this weird, transitional period in your life where everyone is at a different stage and is seemingly ‘doing better’ than you in one way or another. I know students in medical school, people running successful businesses, individuals starting families, and others living out dreams that I couldn’t even imagine.
I also know people who are struggling to find a job or finish their degrees, individuals working jobs they hate to support their dreams, and others who grasped their dreams just to realize that dream is not what they imagined.
But for everyone worrying that their version of normal isn’t good enough, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
You’re not alone.
“What if I’m not doing enough?” “What if I’m going down the wrong path?” “What if I never figure it out?”
No, that’s not just my constant inner monologue. Every one of those people I mentioned who are entering adulthood have all asked themselves these same things — we all just question them in different settings, with different words, and at different times.
If this resonated with you, I’m going to assume that even the smallest part of you also feels the slightest bit lost. What they don’t teach you in school is that this uncertainty is the blueprint for this period in your life.
If you have everything planned and know how to become who you want, I can’t even begin to tell you how jealous I am. But for the rest of us who spend our nights lying awake worrying about an uncertain future, believe me when I say those restless nights aren’t worth it in the long run.
I know it doesn’t feel like it now but trust me, you have time.
And in the end, nothing is really guaranteed. So take solace in the fact that you’re not alone in your worrying, no matter how put together we all may seem.
Deep down, in one way or another, we all have no clue what we’re doing.