No, that is not what was said. That cannot be right. The topic is just…graduation. The sudden flaring of nostrils and tension coiling amidst my innards is thoroughly unnecessary.
The big “G”- the word with which college students are both heckled and haunted. People love the idea of flying until they think of falling, and when your “adult” debut is imminent, that is the moment when you realize you will not be a bird gracefully taking flight as much as a human cannonball. How far will you go? Where will you land? Can you stick it? Add that uncertainty to the constant stream of questions about what you are going to do and where you are going and you have a wonderful recipe for apprehension. I mean, we are supposed to have it figured out by the time we walk out of our last set of finals, right? Maybe not.
A few conversations with friends revealed that they had as much or less of an idea about what they were doing with the rest of their lives as I did. At least I knew my next step, but the irony of it was, being dead set on a career path and life goals did not fully alleviate that free-fall feeling. Making my dream a reality was not and is still not a guarantee. We were programmed to believe that we would knock it out of the park and we would do it before we hit thirty. Problem is, as so many are taking the trouble to point out, that is not really how it works. After all, it is a bit unfair to expect ourselves to be ace at running our lives when we have not yet managed keeping up with the dishes. (Or is that just me?) So are we supposed to have it figured out by the time we walk across the stage? Not really.
Besides, do you really want to live knowing every step you will ever take? I fail to see the adventure in doing so. There is something to the notion of being too thorough, and knowing where you want to go is not the same as knowing how to get there. The magic often happens in the gaps between A and B rather than at either point. The key is to embrace that uncertainty, pick a starting point, and keep moving while consistently evaluating where you stand. If you discover you no longer fit with the path you travel or need a new direction then change course.
If you do have your life’s trajectory set, fair play. But realize that your plans may very well change because people and situations change. That six figure salary you were gunning for at twenty-two may turn out to be more trouble than it’s worth; that passion for medieval literature might be better fulfilled in a blog than a Ph.D; and that decision to spend a gap year teaching in China might lead to a decade or more of backpacking and teaching ESL. Having a sense of direction obviously goes a long way in lessening that “OMG, what now!?” feeling, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what age you are: the future is always going to be uncertain. Have fun with it anyway.