Life after college is weird.
When I was a kid, I had a very specific plan for my life. I was going to go to NYU, live in New York, live my life in my 20’s with my cat in a crappy apartment that I would, of course, be able to afford with my wonderful job at a publishing house. If you are also in your 20’s, I think you know where I’m going with this…. Obviously, nothing went according to plan.
That’s okay though!
Being a college graduate, living at home with my family, in the room I grew up in after swearing I would never come back was…humbling, to say the least. But every situation has its silver lining. I know most of my more recent posts have mentioned how because of how everything worked out, I got to meet my amazing boyfriend, some of my very best friends, and am heading into a living situation that one could only dream of in this economy.
But that isn’t what I want to talk about today.
Today, it’s important to discuss discovering who you are and what you want out of life after the point of which you feel you should have. For the last two years, it seems everyone in my life has done nothing but ask the question of “What’s next?” I was, fortunately, able to evade this question by keeping my focus on what was in front of me: graduation. Well, that step is over. Now, I have nothing shielding me from answering the question of what I want to be when I grow up.
What is interesting, is if I had been asked pre-COVID, I would have had my answer immediately and had multiple, not that I owed it to anyone. “I want to be a journalist!” “I want to work at a publishing house!” “I want to go to law school and be a Civil Rights Attorney!” The answers entirely depended on what my mood was like that day. Did I want to follow my passions and write? Did I want to spend my days reading and assiting in the publication of new books? Did I want to change the world, if not in its entirity, than for someone? I truly could never decide.
Ask me that question now, as a 22 year old recent college graduate, and I will tell you something more honest than any of those previous answers. I don’t dream of labor. I don’t want to have work consume every aspect of my life. I don’t want capitalism to destroy my passions for reading and writing. So what do I want? I simply don’t know. I know that I don’t want to be serving for my whole life. I know that I don’t want to be living to work. That, truly, is all I know. And that is okay.
No one will ever tell you that it’s okay that you don’t know what you want to do, but it is.
Everyone needs time to figure out what it is they want to make of their lives. Older generations will claim that we have our whole lives to think about this, that college was the time to think and adulthood is the time to work. How was I supposed to think about what I wanted to do with my life when I was busy learning about things that were entirely irrelevant to me? When was I supposed to find my passion in between studying for midterms, writing 25 page papers analyzing Sherlock Holmes’s motivations, and working 40 hours each week split between two jobs just to afford school with minimal student loans? The answer is built into the question– I wasn’t. My purpose wasn’t to find the thing I wanted to do with my life; it was to graduate and find a job I could tolerate for life.
The life planned out for me, the one I tricked myself into believing was something I wanted, turned out to be wrong. Thinking of that life right now? It couldn’t seem further from what I want at this point of my life. I’m 22. I’m only 4 years old in adult years. The most I can think I want to do with my life right now is that I want to live my life, have fun with my friends, and get to regain some of my youth that I lost focusing so hard on the future.
It’s okay to not have a plan. It’s okay to not know what you want. What isn’t okay is wallowing in the infinite oblivion that is the idea of “the future.” My best advice to anyone in my shoes is this: live your life, set yourself up for success but don’t age yourself in the process. Plan in private and hide in plain sight.
Everything will work out…..at least, that’s what I’m telling myself.