You know that pit in your stomach that starts bubbling with anxiety whenever someone mentions the future? If you do, you’re probably a senior contemplating your post-graduation plans. For me, this anxiety can swell to full-blown panic about what I’m going to do once I have those degrees in my hand. Everyone keeps telling me to stay in school for as long as I can, and I know I would be lucky to be accepted into any graduate program this late in the game. I am lucky in the fact that grad school is a viable option for me, since many people don’t get that opportunity. I can’t help but feel, though, that it’s not the right way for me to go. Not yet, not now.
I am scared. Like many of my peers, the future is coming whether I want it to or not. I am trying to remain positive, but I have enough to do in trying to finish my senior year. The added stress of figuring out what comes next is wearing me down. Where do I go from here? I don’t want to be a burden to my parents, nor do I want to be a disappointment to the family in general. I know at Thanksgiving, everyone’s question is going to be, “Now what?” I’m terrified of what their expressions will be when I say, “I don’t know.”
I had one opportunity. I have been in the application process of a program for recent grads, a program I was really excited about. I thought it would fit my personality and skills very well, only to be cut before the final interview stage. That hurt, a lot. It wasn’t just getting the “Thanks, but…” email that cut me, but the idea that my one opportunity was not an option anymore. Knowing this was a possibility, I tried to limit the number of people I told. I made sure I had recommenders in line and that I had a support system in one of my best friends. I texted her today saying that I didn’t get it. I told my boss, who had offered to write a glowing recommendation. They were both so supportive, and I couldn’t help but feel like I let them down. So, how could I do the same to my parents, to my brother, these people who raised me to believe that I could move Heaven and Earth if I wanted to?
I’m not writing this to garner sympathy or attention, but to give a voice to this anxiety I have about the future. I know I am not alone in this, but it doesn’t help to think that several of my peers are having the same exact problems. We’re a generation of students that are about to be sent out into the world, told to bring some great change to society. We’re supposed to be the building blocks to a better community, a place where everyone is capable, equal, and socially responsible. More than responsible, we’re supposed to be active in making strides to this ideal, not just sit back and let it happen for us. Rather than being swallowed by these expectations, it’s time I rise above my own disappointment and push until I find my own way.
This means the official job hunt starts today. I’ll be reconsidering some grad school programs, but hitting the pavement for entry level positions is going to be the priority. Updating my resume and cranking out some cover letters will also be on my to-do list. The most important thing for me to remember, though, is that this is not just about finding a job so I don’t have to move back home, hanging my head. I need to find the right job for me. Don’t ask me what that is, because I have no solid idea. But, I bet I’ll know it when I see it. Until then, wish me luck!