It’s finally fourth year, and I am finally graduating. Yes, despite the napping and procrastination that I made sport—I did it! However, this has not been an easy road, my friends. Each year, there has been an apparent theme amidst the students, including myself, regarding what stressors become paramount.
In first year, it was basically everything—all of a sudden you are in a new environment, with new people, and a LOT more responsibility (with the cherry on top—new debt). In second year, stress became deciding which major to settle into and which career path to guide the next two years (with some more debt). In third year, grades began to really matter since some future career paths highly focus on your GPA in the last two years of your university career. It was the year of finalizing your majors before you run home with that degree, to decide the path of your career and the path of your future (and you were sweating debt at this point).
In fourth year, it’s time to really answer for yourself the question we have been asked since kindergarten—“what are you going to be when you grow up?” Because, honey, you’ve somehow all of a sudden ended up on the other side of “grown up.”
There’s one quote that I have decided to embody in my graduating year. I have decided to double major in Criminology and Women’s Studies—and I am really happy with that. I have loved what I’ve studied, what I’ve learned, what I’ve written and what I’ll walk away with. I know where I’m headed next year—but that’s not the end of my story. It’s not my future career path. It’s going to be one of my many paths.
In the movie Never Been Kissed (can I just say that this may be my favourite Drew Barrymore movie and that’s up there with Charlie’s Angels), Drew plays the role of an undercover reporter in a high school searching for the perfect scandal to release into the media storm that she has been a quiet player in. She asks a fellow student, Aldys, “what are your hopes and dreams? What do you want to be?”
In response, Aldys says:
“I want to be a professor of medieval literature.
I want to be a novelist.
I want to be a weekend flautist.
I want to be a potter.
I want to be a painter.
I want to be an architect
I want to go to Northwestern.”
You see, Aldys is onto something.
You are not your career. You aren’t any of them. Nobody bats an eye when, as teenagers, we flock from part-time job to part-time job, never settling. Why, all of a sudden, do we panic when the best thing in the world has just happened? Without school, we have all of the time in the world to do any of the jobs we want. All of the jobs we want. Some of us have been lucky to know what we have wanted to do for the rest of our lives since the beginning of that same life, but it’s okay if that is only a small flicker of the path ahead of you.
We are now graduates, but it doesn’t end there. Let’s be potters. Let’s be painters, doctors, mothers and fathers. Let’s be bridesmaids, travellers, lawyers or writers. Let’s be garbage men, astronauts and ballerinas! If this seems a little bit out of reach, a little bit unrealistic—let’s promise one thing. Let’s promise that the last four years do not define one singular path but rather a new pallet of options that we have worked hard for. You are not your career—your career is a tiny portion of a bigger picture entirely up to your own design.
Let’s stop worrying about what singular, professional thing to be, and just be.
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