Editorials / Opinions

It’s OK to not know what you’re doing after college

-Abbie Walker, Editor

“So what are you doing after you graduate?”

Whether a senior in the final semester or a freshman barely out of high school, this question seems to follow college students everywhere they go.

For many, the answer comes quickly. A lot of you know exactly what you are going to do when you leave the Bubble. You may have had it mapped out for years, and your family members are confident that you’ll do just fine.

But the truth is that many, if not most, of us have no idea what in the world we are doing with our lives. We’ve been asked about our future plans so many times we’ve formulated a quick response, even if we don’t completely agree with it, because there is something about admitting that we don’t know where we’ll be in five years that makes us feel guilty.

We think that not declaring a major right away or switching our major five times tells the world that we are wasting our time and money or that we are unmotivated kids who just want to play around and avoid adulthood.

But is having our lives planned out really that necessary or even realistic?

For a lot of us, college is the first time we’ve been truly independent, making our own decisions and doing what we want without having to worry about the controlling gaze of parentals. We are just now figuring out what we are passionate about—what activities bring us joy, what social injustices make us angry. We are essentially learning who we are.

But for the most part, we are still students. We stay in class and listen about careers from what others tell us, and then we are to choose which path to take even though we don’t have any involvement in the field we are studying outside the classroom.

While internships and part-time jobs allow us to get some work experience, it usually offers only a glimpse of what the real world is like. Like baby birds without any practice, we get shoved out of the nest and are expected to fly.

I’m not saying college isn’t valuable. The classroom is where we get a lot of practical knowledge that mentally prepares us for the career we are interested in. Not to mention, college degrees open up the door to so many more job opportunities. However, I think we put too much pressure on college to be our magic eight ball that tells us exactly what we need to do.

But we need to make money. We need to support ourselves and be successful. We have to know what we are doing now so we can secure a job immediately, right? Yes and no.

Bills are real. Supporting ourselves is a real problem. But I’d hate to see all of us get bogged down in a job we hate just because we are worried about being comfortable, especially since we are so young and have so much life to live.

My suggestion—give yourself time to live. After college, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t think the first job has to be the last or the best. Give yourself time to learn—to absolutely hate the first couple of jobs you have and then go somewhere else. Don’t be afraid to admit that you earned a degree in a field you are no longer interested in. Don’t lock yourself into a life that you are not enjoying. Give yourself time to try different things.

Ultimately, the fear of what we are doing after college boils down to pride. We don’t want others to think we are slackers who can’t make up our minds. But more importantly, our worry and fear comes from not trusting the Lord. Even as Christians, we often forget that the Lord is in control and that He alone knows what is best for us. If you have your entire life planned out exactly, I can almost guarantee that God will mess that up, because He wants to be the one controlling your life, not you.

The same goes for worrying that you are stuck in a major/career that you aren’t really that passionate about. If we say that we won’t be able to do what the Lord is calling us to do because of our major, we are limiting God’s power. No matter what your education, circumstances, or financial status, the Lord can use you.

I, myself, only have a vague idea of what I want to do after college. I know what I am passionate about, and I try to be perceptive to what the Holy Spirit is telling me, but I definitely don’t have my first job lined up. And while that may scare most people, it’s actually very freeing for me. I have a peace from knowing that God will take care of me and that I can spend time enjoying where the Lord has placed me for now and excitedly look forward to where He will take me next.

The Lord may have already told you what to major in or where to apply for a job, but are you open for God to direct you further? Let’s make plans for the future if we can, but let’s ultimately rest in Jeremiah 29:11 and know that the Lord’s way is the best way and that He has it under control.

So I encourage you to be all right with not knowing what you are going to do after you graduate. Follow your heart. Listen to the Lord. Swallow your pride. Live your life. Learn from your mistakes. If we give ourselves time to explore our passions and give room for God to move us, the right path will eventually make itself known.

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