Life happens even if you don’t “figure it out.” Immediately
The second semester of my senior year of college was defined by one question: “what are you doing with your life?” It came from friends, family, strangers, and the familiar barista at Starbucks.
Why is it so important that our future is defined? I eventually realized the answer to this question. The answer is “no.” I don’t necessarily need to know what I’m doing for the rest of my life. I don’t have to be thinking of what my career status will be at age forty-five. Of course it is necessary to find a job, go to graduate school, get an internship or do something to advance yourself. But do you need to have a set career path? No. The time after undergrad is a time of exploration. Learn what you like to do, learn what you hate to do, and learn where your interests truly lay. This time of self-discovery, however, does cost time and money. Sometimes it’s best to prioritize you’re paying job over jet-setting around the world on a whim. BUT that does not mean you can’t take the time to learn about other interests: use your time after work and accept awesome opportunities that come your way.
What’s important to remember is that your degree doesn’t determine your future. My degree is in Anthropology, but in Israel I interned for a nonprofit that completely changed any ideas I had about what I wanted to do with my life. Confusion is okay. Limbo is okay. Uncertainty is, surprisingly, okay. If you’re twenty-one or twenty-seven, it doesn’t matter. Figure out what is right for you while maintaining a responsible lifestyle; no matter how long it takes.
So here are my recommendations for de-stressing, figuring it out, and dealing with the pressure.
- Designate time for job or school applications, internship searches, or postgrad program research. Don’t constantly obsess. Rather, take the hour every three days to work on your future, and then set all thoughts of it aside. You should be enjoying your senior year and every ounce of nostalgia that comes with it. Don’t miss out just because you’re afraid that your postgrad life won’t be perfect.
- Take every opportunity you can to determine or confirm your interests. You may find yourself in love with the idea of getting a financial business degree. Before you apply to schools and set sail for the life of GREs and MBAs, take some time and work in the field before you make the commitment to graduate school. You may find you are more interested in marketing, research, or program development rather than the financial aspect of a business. Be 100% certain when you apply to graduate school that the program is right for you; the best way to know is to explore and experiment.
- Give yourself a break. If you’re working a job that financially supports you but you’re not happy, that’s alright. If you want to venture into a new field, go for it. If you don’t know how long you’ll last at your current job, don’t stress. Nothing is forever unless you want it to be. You can do anything with your life because it’s YOURS.
As cliché as we all know it to be, you only live once. You have one life to adventure, learn, make mistakes, love, succeed, fall down, and do every incredible thing that you don’t even know you’re capable of. It’s important that you don’t spend all of your time trying to figure out your life because you can miss amazing experiences if you’re only focused on the future. Find a balance. Remember, you get one life. Live it.
Loni Fink- contributing blogger to ifIknew