First of all, sorry I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve had a lot to do to finish my final semester of college: projects, papers, and portfolios have ruled my life. Now it’s over- forever unless I do to grad school. I’m thrilled, but I’m also overwhelmed.
Like many millennial, I have been going to school from the time I was 5 years told until I graduated from college. For me, that’s 20 years as a full-time student. I’ve structured my day-to-day, and week-to-week life around school. My schedule, my goals, and my very identity have been shaped by my education.
Now that I’ve graduated from college –now what?
For most of my life I’ve defined myself as a student. Even though I’ve been working a full-time job since 2013, my status as a “student” always overshadowed my professional role. Now, I have to define myself with a new title.
Do I call myself a “Young Professional”? I work in a semi-professional field in a respectable entry level position, but is that what I want to build my identity around?Do I define myself by what I like to do, and form my identity around hobbies? Do I call myself a “writer” or a “reader”, a “hiker” or a “cook”?
Speaking of hobbies, what do I do with all the free time I now have without school? For many graduates the transition from school to work is a simple matter of replacing one with the other. Increasingly, however, my generation fills our days with both as the cost of education and rent skyrockets, and part-time work fails to pay the bills.
Suddenly, hours spent attending classes, writing papers, and aimlessly procrastinating homework have opened up. I can do anything with all that time- which means I am also prone to do nothing with it at all. Sometimes too much freedom also means too little motivation.
Continuing on my spiraling path, what about motivation? I’ve spent the last 6.5 years telling myself to “just make it through school”. My diploma was my primary motivation-my ultimate goal! I have it now (or will in a few days) and I am so proud of all the hard work I put into getting it. Now that I know I stick to a task until it’s been completed I need to find a new target to direct my energy toward. I need a new goal.
Graduating from college raises a lot of questions.
Many of my friends are deciding on new careers, new cities to move to, or new passions to pursue. Some, like myself, are having a minor identity crisis. Some are enjoying a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Some a panicked about the debt they will have to pay off, or the lack of direction they have after one chapter ends. Was all the time and money worth the degree? Where do I go now? What do I do? How do I pay this off? How do I market myself? What do I want now? All of these questions are overwhelming.
I’m coping by looking for a new path.
I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t know the answers to all these questions. I don’t know where I will be in 5-years. I don’t even know where I will be next year. All I know is that I’m the kind of person who needs a goal. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do without some sort of structure. My anxiety doesn’t allow me to live life without some sort of guide. I don’t need to know all the details, and I don’t need a concrete destination at the end- but I do need a general sense of direction to start my journey toward. My new goal this summer is to find a new motivating guide for my life.
I’ve graduated. Now what? Simple- I’ll create a new goal.