You're Not Alone: It's Okay To Not Know What You're Doing After You Graduate
“If the path before you is clear, you’re probably on someone else’s.” — Joseph Campbell
Senior year was really fun. Big kids on campus, old veterans and seasoned professionals, we lived like kings. House parties, weekend trips and the feeling that we were home free. Day drinking, bar crawls and the best years of our lives coming to a close in one semester-long bang.
Unfortunately, I don’t remember it that way. I only remember days of stress and nights of sheer bewilderment. I only recall the feelings of being trapped and alone.
I remember regret, lots of regret for not taking certain classes and exploring other majors. I remember being terrified for finals -- not for fear of bad grades, but fear of what they meant: the end.
I started scrambling. At one point I actually Googled “jobs for graduates,” which brought up more porn sites than I’d care to admit.
I started taking an overload of English classes, thought about switching my major again, and started sending out my resume to anyone who had a business card.
I’d sit in my room, thinking about who I wanted to be five years down the road. Did I want to be a graduate student? Did I see myself working in sales? Did I actually think I could make cold calls? Did I want to be an artist and just move to Europe?
A million thoughts and ideas of who I could, would and wanted to be appeared and flew away a million times throughout the day.
With a few weeks until graduation, I still had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for the rest of my life, let alone the entire summer I’d now be living with my parents.
However, with a few internships in my back pocket that taught me that I hate mindless work and meaningless outcomes, I knew I couldn’t do anything that required Excel spreadsheets and phone calls. And that was important for me to know.
That’s what those internships were for, to teach me what I didn’t like. I had a head start on figuring out what I did like.
Thus, I was standing on the threshold of adulthood with absolutely no plan. However, I had the second most important thing: a passion.
Figuring out what you want to do with your life can sometimes be easier than finding your passion. It takes years for people to find that "thing" that gives their life purpose and real meaning.
But this passion was what I spent senior year really looking for. So I’m telling you right now it’s okay if you just graduated and you have no idea what you want to do with your life, just figure out what you like, then what you want to do.
And if you’re still feeling bad, here are the real reasons it’s okay you don’t know what the hell you're doing:
You Have Time
I know you feel really old and it seems like living back at home is a fate worse than death, but you’re not and it's not. You are still a young adult who no one is going to take seriously for a while, unless you invent an App.
No one is judging you for moving back home, especially because more kids are doing it than you’d think. So don’t stress. Use the summer as your break, your allotted three months to get yourself together and come up with a plan.
It’s A Blessing In Disguise
Unless you're supposed to be going to med school or graduate school, there’s no set path for you and that’s exciting. You have the entire world at your feet and nothing holding you back but yourself.
Anything can happen and you can be anyone you want. Don’t look at it as a scary plight, but as a privilege that many people never experience. Your life is completely unplanned from here on out and that’s as liberating a moment as you’ll ever have.
It’s Good For You
You may not realize it right away, but there's a huge silver lining to being unemployed. Unlike your peers who never took the time off that everyone needs after 18 years of education, you’ll have a deeper understanding of life and adulthood.
Because many of your peers jumped right into jobs without really knowing themselves, they will most likely end up hating their jobs within six months.
They will be living in apartments they can’t afford with a job they can’t stand. And you will be laughing all the while, because you still have something they don't: contentment.
If You Do It Right, You’ll Be Better Off
If you use this time after gradation to really focus on your needs and your passions, you will be doing yourself a huge favor in the long run.
Rather than having a mid-life crisis when you're 45 and deciding you want to quit your job to pursue your passion of painting, you’re having it now, when you’re young and strong enough to handle it.
You are doing all those things you wanted to try out and attempt as a career now, rather than when it’s too late (not that it's ever really too late).
So take the time to explore these passions. You never know, it may take you places you never expected. And if you fail, you’re still young enough to move on and try something else.
You're Not The Only One
The way you feel now, lost and unimportant, is something most of your peers and most adults feel all the time. These feelings are not unique or worrisome, they are expected.
Don't be ashamed to answer your nosy parent's friend's questions with "I don't know." You don't have to apologize to anyone and more than likely people will understand what you're going through right now.
Talk to your friends and family, be honest and real and you'll see that more people understand your feelings than you think.
Photo via We Heart It