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An Ode to the Fourth-Year Conundrum

Hey there.

Yes, you.

Time seems to have just flown by, hasn’t it?

It seems like it was just yesterday when you were unpacking luggage and settling into your new dorm room, or when you were eating meals in the cafeteria, making new friends in a new place, and having to declare your major.

In three short years, you’ve grown and experienced all kinds of things that have led you to become the person you are now.

And you’re proud of yourself, right? You should be! You’re strong, resilient, and resourceful.

But sometimes, especially in these recent months, you also feel worried, uncertain, or maybe fearful. There are many decisions to make, and you can’t keep putting off thinking about your life post-graduation (there are some questions that Netflix just can’t answer).

In a way, you feel fortunate to have so many options, whether it’s enrolling in a master’s program, applying for internships, or just taking some time off for yourself.

It’s a good thing, after all, having many paths to choose from, but it can also be overwhelming– not to mention the countless number of people who, upon discovering that you are in your fourth year, ask: “So what are you doing after?”

It feels like there are so many boxes to check:

 Do you feel passionate about this?

 Does this ensure financial security?

 Will you be able to maintain a good work-life balance?

 Are there opportunities for advancement?

 Is the location somewhere that makes you happy?

And if you already do have a career path in mind, there are still concerns over how you can make it happen, and how to react if life deviates from this path.

Perhaps the bottom line to all of the confusion and stresses is that it’s okay to not know exactly what’s next for you, and that it’s okay if things don’t always go according to plan.

Though these details are, of course, important, so is thinking about the bigger picture; ultimately, a few years of stumbling will not make a big difference in the grand scheme of life. Regardless of what you may think, taking some time to figure everything out will not ruin your chances of future success.

While you’ve probably heard it before, it cannot be said enough: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Though it’s difficult to avoid thinking of other people’s outcomes when interpreting your own, it’s crucial to remind yourself that you’re going at the pace that’s right for your life. Trust in the process, believe in your strengths, and fight for your dreams.

On a final note, knowing when to ask for help is not an indication of weakness. There is nothing shameful about requiring guidance– good for you for taking your life into your own hands.

Queen’s Career Services is located in Gordon Hall; address is 74 Union Street West, Kingston; phone number is 613-533-2992.

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