It's November 2016, I graduated almost a year and a half ago. If you think time flies when you're in school, try not to blink once you're out.
I've never been one to look too far into the future, choosing to focus on whats in front of me or the near future like tomorrow or next week rather than a year or five ahead. So when I was in high school I worried about high school, vaguely paying mind to the thought of what comes next aka college. Then when I was in college, it was more about passing my classes and paying my tuition than "what's my end goal?," or "what happens once I graduate?"
So, obviously I wasn't completely prepared when it came time to walk across the stage and grab that diploma. Not to say that I wasn't ready to graduate, after years of schooling, it was incredibly fulfilling to hear my name announced at graduation knowing I made it through it all.
No, when I say unprepared, I mean I still don't know where my life's headed. It's been a year and a half...and I'm still figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life. When you're a senior in high school they start asking " Where do you want to go?" followed closely by "What do you want to do?" and at that point no one really expects you to have a definite answer. You're only eighteen after all, how could you have your life plan figured out at eighteen anyway? But as you enter college, the same question keeps showing up "What do you want to do?" and ladies and gentlemen, that question never goes away. Unless of course you already have a career and a life plan. good for you, You're rare, cherish that.
Now, I don't want to go on a tangent here, because I can and I have before. But let's focus. Before I graduated I remember sitting in my department heads office discussing my thesis. I remember her straying from talking about my paper and asking me what my plans were post graduation. I don't remember my exact response but I know it ended with tears. I started crying. I was in my second to last semester of college and I still didn't know what I wanted to do.
Its a year and a half later and I'm still figuring it out. Here are a few things I wish someone had told me before I switched my tassel.
1. You have to figure it out on your own
On that day, when I broke down in my professor's office, she reassured me they wouldn't let me graduate not knowing what I want. She gave me suggestions and ideas for what I could do and I felt a whole lot better. Looking back I remember thinking: maybe she can decipher what career path was meant for me. She has to, after all. She's a professor, she knows what I'm capable of, so she must know something I don't. Wrong. No one can tell you what's the right move for you. There's no secret formula that will come up with the answer for you. You have to decide. You have to make the move yourself.
2. You can't expect a job to land in your lap
This probably seems obvious but sometimes I still have this mindset. A career is not just going to magically show itself to you and solve all of your problems. You may be stuck in your part time job for longer than you like, but even if that's the case, it's okay! Sometimes you have to suffer through the sucky jobs in order to find yourself. You know where you don't want to be for the rest of your life, so start looking for somewhere you can see yourself ending up.
3. Your friends are probably as lost as you are
Despite what your Facebook feed is telling you, not everyone's life is going as planned. Not everyone is working at their dream job, not everyone is getting married and engaged or having babies. In fact, most people have no clue what they're doing. Yeah maybe they have a job, but maybe they hate going to work everyday. And maybe someone else got engaged this week, but that doesn't mean their life is picture perfect. Everyone is struggling in one way or another: social media is a lie. Try to remember that on the days you feel like a failure.
4. You're allowed to have fun
Okay so you're almost two years out of school and you don't have a fabulous career or snazzy apartment. You're living at home, working to keep money in your bank account and trying to find your life's purpose. And despite your best efforts, you're stressing the hell out. You constantly beat yourself up for having zero leads on a job and essentially feel as if you've doomed yourself for a life of misery. Hey! Guess what? Just because you feel you don't deserve to have fun because that time could be spent job searching doesn't mean you're right. Yeah, maybe you find the perfect job that weekend you planned on going away but odds are you won't. So give yourself a break. Breathe, Relax, You're so young, stop worrying so much. You will figure it out, but let yourself live a little, okay?
5. Good things take time
Everything is a process. The perfect job, made just for you, won't appear to you in a dream. It's going to take some time and some patience. There's no magic spell or secret code to figuring out what path you're destined for. You may feel like you're wasting your degree right now, but this isn't forever. Life may seem like it's passing you by, and it's true, it is. But if you're working and you're researching then time is not being wasted. You are keeping yourself afloat financially and you're working towards a goal: to find a career you feel happy and fulfilled in. That's all you can do. Keep your chin up, you've got this.