Graduation is a time of transition that is often wrought with many questions. Most individuals enter early adulthood with school having filled the majority of their days. Once this schooling is finished, many young adults find themselves wondering what to do next. Questions from well-meaning family and friends add to the pressure. The absence of having a clear plan or path creates room for doubts and concerns.
I remember this time of my life as one that was plagued with uncertainty and a little anxiety. There are a few things I know now years later that I wish I had understood during this important time of transition.
It’s ok if you aren’t sure about what comes next. If you do not know what exact job or career path you want to take, that is perfectly okay - and you are not alone. There may be a few people who have known since they were 3 years old that they wanted to be a doctor and they set out to follow that path. If that’s not you, don’t worry. Explore your interest and possible career fields. Talk to others who have careers you find interesting. Gather information about possible career choices before making any decisions. Career counselors on college campuses and high school guidance counselors are often underutilized but can be a great source of guidance during this time. These professionals often have tools that can provide insight on personal strengths and possible careers.
It’s okay to change your mind. Gone are the days of working for the same company for 30 years. Most people not only change jobs multiple times, but also change career fields. Once you make a choice, know this doesn’t have to be permanent, and there are always new options and avenues to explore if you find you are not satisfied with what you chose.
Your expectations and desires are more important than the expectations and desires of others when it comes to determining YOUR future. Your parents, grandparents, friends, and teachers may all have suggestions on what you “should” do with your future. If the “shoulds” suggested by others do not align with your personal desires or career ambitions, be assertive in letting others know the paths you are choosing to explore. If three generations in your family have all worked in the same field but you want something different for your life, this is okay. You will likely feel more fulfilled and perform better in a career of your choosing.
Relax. Take time to consider all your options. When you feel pressure to make a decision and this pressure adds stress, make sure to take time for relaxation. Set aside time to recharge your mind and your body by engaging in activities you enjoy and find relaxing.