Whether you are a freshman or a senior (and here’s a shoutout to all my super seniors), I’m sure you’ve been asked a million times about your major and why you chose it. Some of you might have an answer to this question that fits nice with a life plan to follow. To you, I tip my hat and say, “congratulations.” Honestly, that’s incredible.
For others, including myself, the response is a shrug followed by, “I don’t know. It just feels right.”
At first, I was ashamed of this answer because I didn’t have the next 10 years of my life mapped out. Everywhere I turned, people were becoming nurses, pastors, counselors, administrators, teachers and everything else the world needs. It’s a big picture to fit into, and I’m still not sure where I fit.
After some time, I began to accept this reality for myself and speak it with confidence. I genuinely don’t know what’s after graduation, much less 10 years down the road. After all, who really knows where they will be in 10 years? (I’ll give you a hint, it’s pretty much no one.)
Nonetheless, from day one of college we’re expected to have a plan and something of a “life map” to reference and follow until we make lots of money and retire. In fact, it seems that people have a series of questions that immediately come to mind when speaking to a college student: “Why did you pick that major?”; “Are you going for a Masters?”; “What are you going to do with your degree?”; “What are you passionate about?”
For me, the answer to each of these questions is a resounding “I DON’T KNOW.” Not all of us are willing to admit this to ourselves, but I know I’m not alone in my uncertainty of the future. I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to be uncertain.
Discovering your vocation is much more than completing a degree, and I sincerely hope that you go on to accomplish way more than an undergraduate degree. Not all of our pursuits must be academic, and not all of our passions can be summed up into a quick response to a ridiculous question.
Why must we pressure ourselves and others to summarize their dreams for the future in a single sentence? Why must we assume that our future has everything to do with “doing” and nothing to do with “being”?
What if the important question didn’t include our plans for a job? What if the important question is about who we want to become?
Every day we make small choices about who we are and who we want to become–more of this, less of that. And while we must face what we want to do in the future, all of that comes from who we already are or who we are becoming. Therefore, any efforts toward becoming the kind of people we want to be are efforts toward a future version of ourselves that will make this world a better place.
Who you are…
Can’t be summed up into the major you’ve chosen.
Can’t be measured in time.
Can’t be evaluated by academic accomplishments.
Can’t be encompassed in a single response to a pressurized question.
So, while it’s always a good idea to get a job lined up after graduation (seniors, I’m looking at you), it doesn’t have to determine the rest of your life. The kind of person you are becoming will determine the rest of your life.
The next time someone asks you, “What’s after graduation?” don’t hesitate to be honest with them and yourself– feel free to say, “I don’t know, but I’m sure it will be something good.”