You’ve made it. Your cap and gown are well-pressed, you’ve overcome senioritis, and you have your framed certificate and golden tassel to signify your completion. The anticipation is exhilarating. Your blood is pumping. Your dreams are soaring. It’s common. Don’t let that drive diminish. In fact, let that thrill you and continue to encourage you.
Life after college: You will find your friends enjoying what they always sought to do, or they are experiencing their dream careers and loathing them. Then you’ll learn some of them weren’t fortunate enough to acquire their dreams, and so they chose alternative career paths. They were in hopes of tentative solutions, but they unknowingly became satisfying, permanent ones.
The truth is, many of us after college don’t have it figured out yet, and we overlook the fact that it’s totally fine.
1. We are still a work in progress
Our country’s unemployment rate has been excruciatingly increasing over the past few years, making it extremely difficult for Millennial post-grads still searching for jobs.
With the competition so high, we find ourselves applying for jobs in businesses we really might not enjoy or in fields we aren’t too well-versed in, just to cut a check for next month’s rent.
But, are you winning? Absolutely! First off, you’re adding experience to your resume, and employers like to see you are actually applying yourself. Secondly, you’re honing your skills in a field you previously did not know much about. You’re also broadening your career options. Most of us don’t know what we want in a career immediately after college, anyway. We end up trying this and that, to know that all this time, this suited us far more than that ever did.
We won’t know what we truly want until we dabble in a few things. Make moves.
2. Don’t settle for anything less than what you want
As you venture out on the road to discovery, be patient with yourself. There’s no need to move at anyone else’s speed. Your friends and parents are unaware of your capacity, strengths and pressure points. Give yourself ample time with different jobs (ranging by industry or company) to see if you will truly enjoy it several months from now.
It’s true that you spent a disgusting amount of money on your degree, and you desperately want to escape. Before making an impetuous decision, really think about it. Is your unhappiness worthy of the $60,000 you invested in school? Maybe partaking in corporate gluttony isn’t your idea of a “dream job.”
The point is, if you plan to commit yourself to a job for a very lengthy amount of time, do yourself a favor, and make sure it’s a good one. It’s not going to be perfect, of course, but will it be worth it?
3. Your ultimate happiness
After college, I noticed how many people I knew changed. I’m not just talking about small changes, like in hair color or an overwhelming weight gain, but their lives were entirely different.
When we graduate from school, we all want to become somebody and make something of ourselves. We fail to remember, however, that the only person’s opinion that matters is our own. We find ourselves wanting to become someone for an audience, something to showcase on others’ Facebook feeds — all that is completely arbitrary. If we can’t accept that, then we’ll be living our lives for others instead of ourselves.
Your idea of ultimate happiness may change after college. Perhaps you were once career driven, and now you find yourself as a stay-at-home mom, which is more than satisfying for you. Maybe your degree in literature didn’t quite work out for you, and you discovered that real estate is something you excel at and enjoy. Or perhaps you are one of the few who skillfully executed your career plan and is currently working in what you planned on five years ago, with an epic office view of the city.
Listen to your gut instinct, but remember to be sensible. Graduation may mean you’re going to land successfully in the career of your dreams, but it will also mean you might have to make sacrifices, resort to a Plan B and deal with unfortunate consequences for a short period of time. The learning doesn’t stop there. After college, pick up a book, take courses online or install program applications to assist you in certain skills. Education never stops.
Many of us aren’t doing what we said we hoped to do in five years, and we’re more than fine with that. We have traveled or moved out of state, started a family and become a tad bit more adventurous, impulsive, cross-trained, outspoken and educated.