About a year ago I donned the graduation gown and cap, and did what every graduate fears: walking across the stage to graduate without falling over in front of your friends, family and professors. Then to step out into the wide, wide world and take on adult, working life. It was terrifying, mainly because I didn’t have a fully formed plan that ensured a secure future and would make my parents worry less about me.
It is an expectation that many graduates force too harshly on themselves – to finish your years at university with a full time job waiting for you. Preferably a graduate job with an envious starting salary, promises of promotion and an exciting career to jump straight into. Those who achieve this are incredibly lucky and well deserving – people work hard to secure these opportunities that in today’s incredibly competitive job market it can feel like nothing short of a miracle. But what if you don’t have this waiting for you? What if, like me, you hoped university would inspire you to discover your dream career, only to realise at the end that you have only a vague idea what your dream career is?
If this is you and you’re about to graduate, then the wide, wide world might be feeling far too overwhelming and you wish you could continue hiding in libraries and procrastinating with Netflix forever. That’s the dream surely. Maybe you’re considering postgraduate studies, but it’s an expensive investment for the half-hearted. Maybe you just want a simple job to pay the bills for a while, because your brain is still feeling melted from years of essays, exams, and deadlines. Or maybe you just want to pack a bag and go anywhere your passport will take you.
Whatever plans or fantasies you have swimming about in your head, I just want to assure you that no matter what: it’s all okay. This is regardless of whether you’re about to leap into a career, take up a job, or spend the summer/year figuring out what your next steps are. It’s important to remember that life is just a series of steps and adventures. You don’t need a five year plan, and you don’t need your entire future decided when you’re barely into your twenties. You may even be surprised that most people are feeling just as overwhelmed as you are. Sure, it’ll be great to be on the career ladder so early in life – but if committing to a career isn’t what you want right now, or if it’s a career you’re not sure you’re passionate about, would it be worth it? It may be more fulfilling for you to try out a few things before you commit, or to just spend some time having fun or taking it easy. You’ve just graduated, you’re young, and instead of being scared if you don’t know what you want to do: be excited that it means you can do pretty much anything, and can take you anywhere.