This is dreaded question no soon-to-be grad wants to hear: “So, what are you going to do after graduation?” The worst part is, everyone wants to know, and everyone asks. For some, the answer is easy; they already have a job lined up or they’re going to continue school or they’re moving somewhere new. But what happens when it doesn’t come that easy?
In a perfect world, I’d know exactly what I wanted to do, and I wouldn’t fail at it, but that’s not always the case. That’s what makes it so hard and terrifying. I’ve been a student for the past 15 years; imagine losing the one identity that has been certain for most of your life. It’s a lot of pressure to have everything figured out, and people expect you to have an answer. I’m scared to move on; I have so many worries that I’ve categorized them for you.
After three years at Florida State, five jobs, two degrees and many extracurriculars, you’d think I’d be leaving more confident than when I started. At times I find myself doubting my skills and experience, I compare myself to others who are doing completely different things and call myself unsuccessful or incapable. The job search isn’t easy. You have to constantly compare yourself and what you know to what a company is looking for. It’s easy to doubt yourself; I know I do sometimes.
“If you can do or be anything what would it be?” F*cking rich. Whoever said money doesn’t buy happiness clearly never had money-related problems. If I could do anything, it would be to pack my bags and move somewhere new. All my life I’ve dreamed of experiencing other places. Moving to California, New York, London, Atlanta—anywhere really. And maybe I’m just scared but there are so many conditions people tell you when you want to move. “You have to save at least six month’s expenses,” “You’ll miss everyone you know, and you’ll be all alone,” and, “What if you don’t find a job?” While all are valid questions, what happened to encouraging others to fulfill their dreams? Instead of it being a positive life experience, it’s turned into a stress-inducing one. If I had money to fall back on, I could focus on only doing what truly makes me happy; I wish everyone could experience that. Yet unfortunately, living like that is reserved for the few that can afford it.
Change is scary
As students, we’ve spent our whole lives learning. It’s scary going from elementary to middle school or high school to college but this is the real deal, at least for me it is. I remember calling my mom and telling her, “I don’t want to graduate; I don’t want to grow up and have to go work every day.” She would laugh and tell me that’s life, and she’s right but that doesn’t make it any less hard.
COVID- 19 Pandemic
Only to make matters worse, there’s a global pandemic. It has been almost an entire year of living in isolation, restrictions and quarantine. When this all started, we all believed it would be a month, tops. Yet here we are, settling in and adjusting to life with COVID. Is now the best time to pack up my things and move? To add new expenses to my barely existent salary? To be away from loved ones? So many things that other graduates haven’t had to go through and questions that not a lot of people have the answers to have to be considered.
The truth is, I have a hard time deciding because I want it all. I want to be able to move somewhere, not have to worry about money, have my family and friends with me, a nice apartment and a good job. But by having my expectations so high, I’m only setting myself up for disappointment. I’m just trying to take it day by day, enjoying the small victories, trying to enjoy what’s left of my last semester at Florida State.
For any other soon-to-be grads, do you feel the same way? If you’ve figured it all out, please let me know how you did it.