Happy Hump Day! On this fine Wednesday afternoon, let’s have lunch together!
Spinach salad with tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, chick peas, olives, cucumbers, mushrooms, roasted BBQ almonds, and a side of roasted red pepper and tomato soup. Yum yum.
What’re you having?
While we eat lunch, how about some conversation!
I think 99.9% of people between the age of 18 and 23 will agree that the holidays are wonderful, but we all dread those two piercing family questions:
- So do you have a boyfriend? (Or, in my case- it’s often followed by “are you thinking about marriage?!”)
- What are your plans after school? What are you doing next year?!
I can easily dodge the first question and change the subject, but that second question…it makes my heart start racing and I start to sweat a little. The worse part is that once you answer it, it’s followed up by more and more questions. I shouldn’t even say that it’s just family that asks these questions- teachers, friends, parents, everyone asks. Well, maybe not the first question, but they sure do all ask the second.
I think it’s great that people are interested in what we’re doing and what we plan to do in the future. The only problems come when you have no freaking idea what you’re doing in the future. When people asked about the future in high school, the natural answer is “going to ___ college/University” to study XYZ, but if you didn’t know what you wanted to study, everyone always said, “oh! Well don’t you worry about it! You have plenty of time to figure it out!”. Then, during college, you’re pretty much safe for 3-4 years and people just ask the maintenance questions about your life. People don’t really start asking about the future until senior year. For many people, they have it all figured out by that point. The questions can be answered with a simple “I’m going to grad school, med school, law school, traveling, internship, going to become a teacher, accountant, business person looking for a job, etc.”. But for those of us that don’t have it all figured out, those questions are stressful, just like this time in our lives.
In the last few months, I have had this conversation with a number of people. The fact is, once you finish college, not everyone has a prescribed “next step”. It’s very scary to be finishing college and to not know where you will be in a year or two. It’s scary to not have a set plan, or someone telling you what to do next. Yes, the options are endless, but it feels very overwhelming. It seems like this “decide what you want to do for the rest of your life RIGHT NOW” thing just suddenly crept up on us.
I am writing all of this because I just had to do a journal assignment where we need to talk about our plans A, B, C, and D for next year. In the prompt, it states that many people have a plan A and B, but often times, neither works and a C and D are necessary. The prompt really got me thinking. Sure, I have a plan A (applying to post bac programs) and a plan B (go to grad school) and a plan C (travel, volunteer, and work) and a plan D (move in to my parent’s crawl space, grow a beard, gain 125 pounds, and never come out). To think that my plans may not work out is frightening to say the least, not only because they’re my, well, plans, but also because…I really don’t know WHAT I will do if they don’t work out. What is the logical next step in life when you don’t really want to work in the field in which you majored in? What’s the logical next step when you don’t know what else you would be good at doing? What’s the logical next step when you’re scared to fail?
The prompt also asked us to list qualities of the perfect dream job with the sky being the limit. I really like that question because it allowed me to be honest with myself about what I would LOVE to do. I listed dream qualities: Flexible work, fast-paced, measurable success, helping others, changing lives, new projects, human interaction, creativity based, admirable, opportunity for travel.
And dream jobs: Be a part of the design and recipe development team for Trader Joe’s (that’s not a joke), do something with art, help people feel better, be a mom, help people change their life, be a personal trainer, help find a cure or treatment, help less fortunate people, design something, cook and bake, be a part time food blogger.
Whenever people ask me what I am doing next year, my jerk reaction is to say that I am moving into the crawl space. I suppose I hide behind the humor because it’s safer than telling people my real plan and then potentially failing. I do tell people that I am applying to post-bac programs, but when they ask what I will do after that, I shrug and say, “we’ll see. I want to work in healthcare, but I’m taking it one step at a time”. In reality, I DO have a plan, but the unknown of it all is too scary and I guess I feel that by telling the world what I want to do, it sort of sets it in stone. If I shrug it off, well then, plans can change and it won’t be a huge deal.
It’s very strange for me to think about a year from now. In my mind’s eye, I have a picture of me living at home, studying science in the local library, working a little bit, spending most of my time downtown, working hard, meeting new people, and reaching a goal. But really, that’s all in my head. I haven’t actually been accepted anywhere, let alone applied to anywhere yet.
In reality, I know that everything will work out. I will be okay and I will end up doing something that I enjoy. The rational side of me knows not to stress, because things will work out because they always do. I have a supportive family and friends, and if I ask nicely, I know my mom would vacuum the spider webs and my dad would install a heater into the crawl space. That’s love.
The unknown is a scary, scary thing.