“What are you going to do with the rest of your life?”
It’s a pretty daunting question.
It becomes even more daunting when you realize that you don’t have an answer.
If you are like any of us who are completely clueless and graduating in May, you mumble something regarding maybe going to grad school or that you are on the job hunt. Anything just so the next question they ask isn’t “Well…what if you do this?” or “Why don’t you…?”
I speak for the rest of us when I say we have probably already thought about any possibility you are going to throw out to us. Career counselors? We’ve seen those…multiple times. Personality tests? We’ve taken way too many to no avail. Grad school? We’ve searched for hours about what we would even go for. Job market? We have bookmarked, circled, and tabbed everything that looks remotely interesting.
The fact of the matter is: we don’t know what we want.
Our degrees we will graduate with no longer express what we once thought we wanted.
Everything we can see ourselves doing requires things that we don’t have. We want to do it all. Our passions are so broad that one day we want to travel the world and the next we want to never leave where we are.
The internal struggle we are having is far worse than anything that you could throw at us. We are much harder on ourselves than you could ever be.
What if we do this? Well, why not that? Should we settle and just pick something to get a start? Why not wait for something that I am passionate about? The what ifs and why nots are taking over our lives. We lose sleep over what the future holds. We get headaches from staring at our computer screens for way too long. Our fingers get tired and begin to cramp from clicking enter, search after search. Our resumes feel bare, compared to what everyone else has accomplished. We have nothing to show for the hours we are putting in.
We feel like we have no other options. It is simply grad school or job market. We feel like we have to be doing what everyone else is. We compare ourselves to where our friends are or where our parents were. The worst of all is that we compare ourselves to where we expected to be. We had this idea in our heads of how we would have things all figured out by now. We wouldn’t be one of those who had no idea what was happening post graduation. But, here we are. Feeling like we have failed not only those around us but mainly feeling like we have failed ourselves.
We forget that we aren’t everybody else. We forget that we are more than our degrees or our stresses or our future. We forget that it is okay not to know. We lose sight that it’s in these moments of feeling lost, stressed, confused, and frankly, ready to give up, that our greatest selves emerge.
So to the people who keep asking us, “What are you going to do with the rest of your life?”
Believe me, we wish we knew.