While I was in university, one of the questions I often struggled with was if I should do work I loved, or if I should work to make a living.
I would ask my friends this question, and most of them prioritized practical things, like financial stability.
Maybe it was all the Pinterest quotes I fed my brain or all the American TV I was watching with its persistent message of reaching for your dreams, but I didn’t like the idea of working just for a living.
After graduating from university with a degree in psychology and with some rough plan of taking that further, I went overseas to be with my boyfriend for three months.
I wanted to explore the things I had never experienced. I wanted to find out if I was any good at things I have always been interested in, like writing, design, art and other creative things.
What started as mere exploration, ended up helping me figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It even gave me some things I could use to pursue the work of my dreams.
While not everyone has the luxury of leaving everything behind and flying off to another country for a couple of months, the next best thing you could do is buy the time to learn about yourself instead of jumping straight into a full-time job your heart isn’t in.
Here are five reasons why I, personally, think you shouldn’t jump into a full-time job immediately:
1. You may get "sucked" into something you’re not happy with.
Most of us spend five out of seven days working. Putting this into consideration, the quote, “How we spend our days is how we spend our lives,” really means a lot to me.
You don’t want to look back on your life to realize you’ve wasted so much of your limited time on things that meant absolutely nothing to you.
2. You can buy time to think about what you want to do.
If your life has no direction, instead of jumping into whatever comes along, the more logical solution would be to find a direction worth committing your life and energy to.
What are the skills you’re proud of?
Which interest of yours trump all your other interests?
Ask yourself all the questions you feel are important for you to figure out what you should be doing with your life.
3. You can take up part-time jobs to figure out what you like and what you don’t.
If you have something – an interest or a skill – that isn’t quite developed enough for you to land the job of your dreams, spend time developing it while supporting yourself with a part-time job.
Or, take part-time jobs to help you figure out what you like and don’t like.
For example, I used to think my future was in working with kids, until I tried it and realized it wasn’t for me.
4. You can spend time to develop your skills.
Sometimes, our lives are so off-course for where we really want to be.
Sometimes, our education training is far from the jobs we really want to pursue, and we’re just not in a good position to have the careers we want.
So, put yourself in a better position by giving yourself the time to get there.
Don’t get sucked into the infinite responsibilities of a full-time job that only puts you in a worse position for the job of your dreams.
5. There’s no better time than now.
If you’re in your early 20s like I am, the stakes now are lower than it will ever be.
It will be harder for you to take the time off to explore your interests or even pursue jobs that you’re extremely interested in (that doesn't pay well) when you’re married and have kids to feed.
Figure out what you want to do, and what you can or cannot do now, while you’re young and relatively free.
So, those were the five reasons you shouldn’t jump into a full-time job immediately after graduating.
This time you buy isn’t for you to have fun; it’s for you to seriously explore your career options and figure out the rest of your life if you haven’t already.
It will be nerve-racking when you see all your friends getting hired and working real jobs, but once you’ve figured things out, you will catch up.
Not only that, you will find great meaning and fulfillment in the job you finally get.
This post was originally published on Unzipped.