Last year, around this time, the air was thick with the buzzing tension of a class of seniors stressing about their futures. Everyone claimed they didn’t want to talk about it, yet everyone still did. To a certain extent, I escaped the tension within myself (though I was still affected by everyone else’s stress). I knew where I was going to be. My farm job was secured.
Last night, I went to campus to see some girl friends in the current senior class – beautiful, talented, smart, and driven women who will all be perfectly fine. The tension was there, prevalent as ever, and this time (a year later) I’m actually a part of it. But as a graduate, I have a different perspective. I don’t have the stress of classes, extracurriculars, impending culture shock, theses and research hanging over my head – so things seem a little less bleak. I’m already in “the future,” so there’s a lot less to be afraid of.
I think that college students (including my former self) have the wrong outlook on what the “future” is. It’s scary because, unless you’re going to grad school, it’s the first time in your life that your life isn’t scripted. For most people, there’s no template for how your life should be laid out – you don’t need to be somewhere specific, or be at any one job for a certain amount of time, you get to choose what kinds of jobs to look for. You get to call the shots. You get to fully shape your life. That’s what’s so exciting, and so terrifying, about being in your 20s.
But under all the stress of being a senior, college students have trouble seeing the exciting – they only see the terrifying. They put too much pressure on themselves to find the perfect job and to have a detailed plan before May. What they don’t realize is that life won’t end if you don’t have a job by June 1st. You’ll just end up with more time to look for the perfect job, to move somewhere random, to travel, to do things you haven’t had time for, see people you haven’t seen – live a little, find yourself. You don’t need to find your career immediately, in fact, I’d argue you shouldn’t.
I can’t say that I’ve perfected this mind set. I still freak out, regularly, about my own future. But I am learning to put a lot less pressure on myself to know exactly what I want to do, where I want to be, and when I want to get there (let’s be honest, even if I had answers, they’d probably change before 2016).
If I have any advice for current seniors it would be to relax, to believe in yourself and what you’re worth. Don’t fear June, it’s just another June like every other June before it – it will come and everything will be fine.