Thursday, August 21, 2014

"So, what's next?"

Ah, university life, a time in which you have the opportunity to learn about yourself, find your true passions in life (#career), become more independent, and learn to flutter your social butterfly wings. You enroll, sparkly-eyed and with a head full of sophisticated parties, glorified sports success, and academic perfection. Graduation is but a small light in the distance, so far away that you are sure you will have your life and career ambitions sussed out by the time you get there. Four years? That's aggeeess away!

Well, boys and girls I am here to tell you that four years flies and post-college life does not hold all the answers you once so optimistically presumed it would. You probably didn't do as well in college as you would have liked, thanks to persuasive housemates, belligerent nights out, Four Star Pizza, watching Coronation Street omnibuses, and generally procrastinating. Procrastination in fact is probably your most developed skill after your four years. Three essays, a presentation and an in-class exam this Friday? What a PERFECT time to watch "Game of Thrones" episodes back-to-back! 
You probably haven't participated in much sport since you left mandatory PE class in school. If you did, be honest. You didn't join for the joy of sportsmanship or the sense of fraternity you only get from being part of a team. You did it because of the club's social nights out, during which it wasn't unusual to see you down Jaegerbombs while smeared with U.V. paint. Classic.
Your emotional well-being during final year was probably a split between panic, determination, wondering what's been happening in Corrie, panic, boasting about how much you are doing to people you don't like, freaking out about how little you are doing to people you do like, trying to eavesdrop on said conversations between others, panic, and dreaming of the end of exams and the first frosty pint of freedom. 

By the time you put down the pen in your final exam, the feeling of elation you expected to embrace you is achingly absent. As you walk out of the exam hall and of your undergraduate college life, there isn't any confetti, fireworks or applause. That's it. Life, as corny as it sounds, goes on. What you didn't expect is at the very millisecond your pen grazed your desk with the finality of your academic voyage, a signal, undetectable to you, transmits to everyone you've ever met. No sooner have you walked out of the university grounds, you bump into Mary, your mother's best friend's cat-sitter you met once for five minutes in 2002. You've barely exchanged pleasantries,  when in comes the big question. 

"So you've just finished uni, haven't you?"
"Yeah, literally just finished my last ex-"
"So, what's next?"
"What's the plan? What are you going to do with your life? What are your ambitions? What have you decided to do with the next 40 years of your life? Hmm, hmm, hmm?"

And so, it goes on. This isn't an unique experience. You will be burdened with this sort of investigatory torture for at least another 5 - 7 years. The answer "To be honest, I'm not sure" or "Oh, I'm just enjoying life without exams at the moment" don't sit well. Nor does "Well, I'm just going to take this year to work a bit and figure out the next step". No, no, no. 
You should be saying things like "I'm dedicating my life to God and am moving immediately to a missionary retreat in East Timur" or "I've found myself a soulless office job which will more than likely drain me of any semblance of joy within two years but I will stay there until I qualify for the OAP bus pass". I honestly think it would be more acceptable to say "Oh, I've recently found myself a position as a sex worker. It lets me dictate my own hours, it pays well and I really enjoy it" than "Oh, I don't know yet". God.

I should however clarify that not knowing IS FINE. Not knowing your plan for this year let alone for the next forty IS FINE. Telling Mary the cat-sitter to do one IS FINE. So in the words of TayTaySwifSwif, shake it off. You'll sort it out. Probably. And if you don't, doesn't that make you all the more interesting. 
At least, that's what I'm telling myself... Graduation is next week. We'll worry then...


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"We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far."
Swami Vivekananda


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