‘What are your plans for after graduation?”
“Do you have a job?”
“Are you going to grad school?”
These are the questions that seniors hear over and over this time of year. These are also the questions to which I do not have an answer. Having not yet landed my post graduation job, I answer this question with some humor in order to cover up my disappointment. The reactions I get are all across the spectrum: pity, judgment, support, optimism, pessimism. And with every negative reaction I get, graduation seems more and more daunting.
Since I had no luck with the job search, my next step is to move back home to Vermont and keep applying to jobs. I’ve narrowed my search to Boston so I can end my six years of long distance and finally be with the love of my life. But that’s it; that’s all I can say. Essentially, my whole life after Saturday, May 16 at 5 p.m. is a blank canvas. I have no plans. If I were to buy a calendar, I cannot think of one thing I would write on it. This is both terrifying and thrilling at the same time.
If you think about it, up until now our whole lives have been mapped out for us. From ages 5 to 22, we have had a pre determined path to follow in pursuit of our final destination: success and happiness. Every September we have started our next grade in elementary, middle and high school, and then again in college. When every year ended, we knew to expect the next. As we approach college graduation, this pre-determined path ends, and there is nowhere to go. It feels as if we are being thrown into open water after years of floating down a river. It feels as if we are being expected to know where and how to swim to find our success and happiness.
But, we do know how to swim. We have navigation skills. We are going to have a degree from Georgetown University, for goodness sake! Once I started to trust that my past 22 years have taught me these skills, I finally began to see my present unemployment as a wonderful opportunity. As graduating seniors, the whole world is our oyster. There is no pre determined timeline or path. Everything we look forward to, for the first time, is completely up to us. Since I have yet to land a job, I have been blessed with time to reflect and determine in which direction I want to swim.
So far, I have figured out that love and a job I am passionate about will define my success and happiness. Finding the path that brings me to Boston, to love, along with happiness in a job, is important to me and completely worth the extra time to figure it out. And while I figure this out, I get one last beautiful Vermont summer with my family and dogs. What more could a girl want?
So, I am done dreading the post graduation-plans question. I will no longer answer it with embarrassment. I will no longer feel ashamed that my journey to success and happiness is following a different timeline than others. With no pre determined path, we finally get to watch ourselves and our peers pursue our dreams in our own unique ways. This is certainly one of the most exciting parts of our lives.
I swear by this quote and will carry it with me throughout my journey: “Attitude is the only difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” It is our choice to either feel miserable when obstacles come our way, or to see them as some sort of opportunity. Whether it is graduating jobless or something else, we can choose to see the open ocean as daunting or incredible. I choose incredible.
Rebecca Goldberg is a senior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies.
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