I’m Outta Here…But to Where?

An insane person came up with the idea that 18-year-olds should decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives.

freshman-lauren
This is 18-year-old Lauren. Clearly, too busy contorting herself into weird shapes to figure out her life goals.

It baffles me that at such a young age we are expected to figure out what we want to major in and where we will go to school to learn that major. How on earth can I possibly know what I want to do when I have had absolutely no experience in said field I think I might like?

But switching majors or transferring involves staying in school for extra years, more money and a ton of paperwork. It’s easier to just say, “I’ll stick with it for the next few years.”

During my sophomore year, I went through a mid-college-life crisis, and I wanted to change majors. Several people, including my parents, told me not to. Communications is such a broad field, they said. You can do anything you want with it, they said.

I don’t regret not changing. I’ve learned valuable lessons through journalism, especially how to write concisely and accurately, a skill I can use in any job. But what about the other skills and subjects I want to learn? I miss reading and analyzing books like I did in high school. Heck, sometimes I even miss math. Often, classes outside my major didn’t fit into my schedule because I had other requirements to fulfill. And I go to a liberal arts school! Some of my friends at other schools have barely taken any classes outside their majors.

So where am I now? I’m graduating in a week and a half. I’ll be done with college, at least my undergraduate studies, forever. I’m entering an era of uncertainty. How can anyone expect me, at 21, to know what I want to do for the rest of my life?

I don’t know what I will be doing in the next five years, let alone the next year. Will I be in school? Will I have a job? Will I be living at home mooching off my parents? I like plans. I like to know what’s ahead. I like to mentally prepare. But I can’t prepare for the unknown. All I can do is cross that stage (or I guess floor, since I’m graduating in the smaller December ceremony), knowing at least that I’ve put in a ton of hard work to get that degree.

But it’s not even the academic work that challenged me the most. Yes, I had to do a lot, and yes, I cried many times thinking I would never get everything done, or I would never succeed. But college challenged me more deeply than just giving me an endless to-do list. I went through several rough patches. I went to counseling for two years to learn how to deal with my emotions. I had to learn to rebuild my self-esteem and to value and share my feelings, something that seemed so easy and natural to everyone else around me. It made me feel so behind and so alone.

In those two years, I learned a hell of a lot about myself. I’m proud of myself because I’m stronger now than my freshman-self three and a half years ago.

But now I’m holding a compass and watching the needle spin in circles and trying eagerly get it to settle in one direction. I’m out of the Bona Bubble, as St. Bonaventure University people call our tight-knit campus community. I don’t have a bubble anymore. No protection. No friends living next door to me who are going through the same thing. No group of professors five minutes away who can listen to my panic-induced rants (although I’ve been told I can call or skype, so I hope my professors are ready for my virtual meltdowns).

I guess I just have to accept that I’m a college graduate, but I don’t know shit about the rest of my life—yet. I’m going to tell myself that’s okay. Even though it doesn’t feel like it. I have many a lot of big decisions to make. More stress to endure. But I guess that’s all part of life, and it’s okay to be afraid of it. I just have to do what I always do when faced with an intimidating situation. I just have to suck it up and do it anyway, because that’s what I have to do.

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8 thoughts on “I’m Outta Here…But to Where?

  1. Congratulations on your graduation! No need to decide the rest of your life by graduation day. I’ve switched companies and careers several times. Take baby steps, and you’ll find your way.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yea, I’m always telling my anxious self to shut up, but she just won’t listen. I think that’s one reason I write – to give her a voice and be done with it.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “An insane person came up with the idea that 18-year-olds should decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives.”

    AGREED! I wish we got to work and travel for a few years, finding out what we like and don’t like, and then go to university at say, 25. (I know some people do that, but it’s not easy, financially).

    I’m 27 now and I’m only just starting to figure out what I want to do. It’s been hard, but you have to go through all that struggle and indecision and take all of those ‘wrong’ paths before you can figure out what you want.

    Try not to take it all too seriously, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get things figured out right away. Good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, wouldn’t it be nice if it were the norm to wait for a few years before we make such big decisions so we can be sure of them?? Thank you so much for your comment; I’m glad I’m not the only one who feels this way! It sucks but I don’t think we are meant to be sure so young, or maybe we are never sure? I wish you all the best with figuring out what you love to do, and thank you for your read and comment 🙂

      Like

      1. You’re already one step ahead of me. I just couldn’t accept not knowing when I was your age – I got myself so stressed out about it. Good luck – I’m sure you’ll have plenty of fun figuring it all out! 🙂 x

        Liked by 1 person

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