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Navigating My 20s: I Graduated…Now What?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at TX State chapter.

One of my biggest regrets is coming to college with my mind still not made up. Everyone around me seemed to have a fully thought-out plan for their life, but my plans kept changing every hour. Did I want to continue down the path of dance that I grew up knowing as a norm? Did I want to continue in the medical field as my family all did? Or, did I want to dip my toes around in different areas but not be certain of what I enjoyed most until later than everyone else? These were the constant thoughts playing in my mind, but there was always one dream deep down that my mom thought I would one day rediscover: my love for writing. 

As a kid, your imagination is more sparkles and rainbows than the imagination of those older than you. Life seemed so fun without a care in the world and all the freedom to be a kid and play whenever your heart decided. When I was little, my favorite games to play were role-play imagination games and with dolls, but when playing with my dolls, there was always some sort of storyline. If I dropped playing with the dolls for a bit, the same storyline still had to continue when I resumed playing later in the day. 

My favorite of the two was role-play, but my version of role-play had to involve the nearest family member to me. I was very specific with what could and could not be said when we played, so I would write little scripts that my family members had to follow with pages of instructions. My mind was in a constant loop of ideas generating that there was always something new thrown in that I hadn’t done before to spice up the continuous game. 

When my family wasn’t around to add to my role-play game, you could find me tucked away somewhere writing in my journal, finishing up my book series, or writing a play that I randomly decided to start one day and couldn’t get myself to stop. My mom would sit back and watch as I started to slowly drift away from wanting to play to wanting to primarily focus my attention on completing my book series. 

As I started to get older and out of my sparkles and rainbows mentality, I stopped picking up my pen and writing in my journal; I slipped into a period of sadness, not knowing what to do anymore. I was slowly starting to grow up and going through that phase of confusion as life was starting to change right in front of me; I just couldn’t get myself to be as excited to write as I once was all the years before. 

Throughout high school, I ventured into many activities in hopes that trying everything would help me realize what my true dream in life was. From clinical rotations working alongside medical professionals to joining my school’s drill team to satisfy my love for dancing, my mind still couldn’t grasp what it was that I liked or saw myself doing in the long run. 

Leading up to graduation, I still hadn’t made up my mind on who I wanted to be when I graduated and where I saw myself succeeding. Senior year of high school, COVID-19 hit and it felt like everything that once made sense to me doing, didn’t seem realistic anymore. My dream of wanting to work in the medical field went down the drain after seeing how stressed the people I knew worked in the field were from the influx of patients with COVID-19. 

Dance also didn’t seem realistic to me with COVID-19 restrictions; it was hard to do anything dance-related, as the events we would perform at would get canceled due to the stay-at-home orders. 

Being confined to being at home gave me a chance to look into myself deeper and figure out what other things excited me. It was then that I found my love for forensic science and learning languages. I decided that I would apply to colleges in the hopes of venturing into the forensic science field and also majoring in Japanese to work abroad as a forensic scientist. Science was always one of my favorite and best subjects, so doing something in the science field made the most sense to me. Little did I know, this was the worst mistake that the younger me could make. 

The excitement of coming to college mixed with the feeling of finally being independent did not mix well since society was still in a period of COVID-19 being at its peak. With classes still being done remotely on Zoom, I wasn’t given the proper freshman year as a college student and became unmotivated, losing my sense of whether I made the right decision on my major. 

After struggling mentally and academically, I took a semester off and decided to come back with my mind in the right place and try again with the major I had to see if I just wasn’t motivated because of the circumstances. With my head in the right spot, I made my return to college which was now back to operating normally, allowing us to go to classes and attend college activities, giving me the experience I longed for. Though the excitement level was at its peak and I felt motivated once again, something didn’t feel right and I still found myself struggling academically. Once the hard-headedness in me came to terms with how I was moving behind the rest of my peers, I knew it was time to finally buckle down and get my life together as my years in college were coming closer to an end. The Texas State University Advising Center does have your best interest at heart because meeting with them allowed me to dive back into where my heart truly was. 

Going back to doing something in writing was always in the back of my head, but because I was already in my senior year, it seemed so out of touch to jump from a science field to a journalism field when graduation was already in the grasp of my hands. However, after pondering and writing my pros and cons, I decided to go against my advisor’s wishes and make the decision to switch my major to journalism in my senior year. 

From the first day of finally starting in that major, I found myself constantly blowing up my family group chat with nothing but excitement from finally realizing how in love I was with writing still. Being in the journalism classes was such a breath of fresh air because it brought me back to the sparkles and rainbows mindset that vanished so long ago after adolescence and allowed me the chance to share with the world all the thoughts that were in constant replay in my head. I always heard people advise others to join clubs that related to their interests and found myself wandering around the club fair on campus. I was immediately drawn to the Her Campus table. 

I would always stumble upon their page on social media and see the amazing opportunities members had that were in the same shoes as me, sometimes even being younger than me and being able to accomplish so much through this organization. I took it upon myself to dip my toes in and apply, crossing my fingers that my interview would be successful and I would be allowed the opportunity to join the team. Being around other creatives, seeing how passionate everyone was, and seeing the endeavors they were pursuing on the side, made me realize that was what I wanted to do as well. 

In my chapter of Her Campus, we’ve done numerous workshops to prepare for life after college such as resume workshops, LinkedIn workshops, and social media workshops, allowing me the opportunity to finally put myself out there. I applied relentlessly to different publications in hopes of expanding my resume and preparing myself for life after college since I am a senior and Her Campus is only an activity for me to do in college. 

With little writing experience compared to the rest of the members, I wasn’t expecting to get accepted but I continued to keep trying because of how passionate I was after finally finding my safe space in writing once again. I crossed my fingers and kept checking my email in hopes that at least one of the applications would successfully go through. I woke up one day and checked my email just like the numerous times before and to my surprise, there was an acceptance letter from Genius Korea to join their team. Genius Korea has allowed me numerous opportunities even with my little writing experience, allowing me to build my resume up by doing things I never thought I would be able to do so late in life. Her Campus has given me vast opportunities I once longed to do as well. 

Even in my senior year, after discovering what it was I wanted to do so late compared to my peers around me, I’ve still been given a shot to get a start in my career. Being allowed to share my thoughts with others and hear the praises from those around me about how they feel inspired by my work and seeing how passionate I am, it feels like I finally found my home and where I was destined to be all along. Being allowed to write about things I love and open up my mind for others to see inside of and not be judged, has not only shown me it’s never too late to do what you love, but also helped me mentally to finally be at peace and certain of what I want to do after graduation. 

Due to me figuring out my love so late, I do find myself being saddened by the fact I won’t be able to graduate on time with the rest of my class from high school like I originally planned to do. However, I feel like the place I’m currently at, even with the extension of my graduation year, is allowing me to build my resume up so I have more experience behind my belt when I  start applying for journalism jobs when I finally graduate. 

With the knowledge I’m gaining from Her Campus and my publications, I have been given a second chance at life when I was so ready to give up. Rediscovering my love for writing was something my family could only dream of, and finally doing so was a breath of fresh air for not only me, but my family. Being able to say your family is proud of you and supports your career path is the best blessing in itself. If I was given a time machine, I wouldn’t change anything. I believe the hardships and pain brought me where I am now at the right time and for a reason.

Nina Bailey

TX State '24

22. txst striving to be the best version of myself