Last minute meditations: after college

By: Aileen Maki

I know, I know. I’m probably the last person that should be writing about how it’s okay to not know what you want to be when you grow up. Here I am in my penultimate semester of college, and I’m still absolutely clueless about where I want to go and what I want to do after graduation.

It seems as if I have a life changing epiphany about my “path” every week, only for it to be eclipsed in a few days by the next one. The constant battle between all these different desires and dreams have exhausted me to a point of petrified indecision, and I know I’m not alone here.

Remember a month or two ago when there always seemed to be some kind of new nasty thing to say about this generation? If you don’t, here’s a recap: millennials are lazy, don’t know how to interact with people in real life and take way too many selfies. Everything from the amount of time we spend online to the likelihood of us moving back home x years after graduating from college was being aggressively mocked in the media.

While there was thankfully a serious backlash against all these claims, it definitely got me thinking about why our perspective of the world seems so much different than that of our parents’ generation.

I mean, let’s face it: we’re in the middle of a constantly changing job market and new innovations and discoveries are going to make the things we learn now outdated, if not obsolete, within the next decade. We have to be willing to change, advance and grow our skill set for the future or else we’ll get lost in the post-grad shuffle.

No longer does a college degree guarantee a job, leaving many millennials to pursue goals in a system that wasn’t built for us or the changing dynamics of our globalized world.

I do have a little glimmer of hope for those of you that I haven’t completely talked into dropping out of college yet: not knowing exactly what you want to do means you can do pretty much anything.

Trust me, it’s taken a lot of heart-to-hearts and gratuitous amounts of time watching TED talks on YouTube for this to sink in: growing up in a fast-paced world teaches you to be flexible and how to evaluate any and all possibilities that are open to you. You can make the search for a career less about the specific path and more about who you are and where your passions and skills will be the most beneficial.

And just because a college degree might not guarantee a job the way it did in the past, it does offer you the opportunity to learn how to think critically, which is one of the most valuable skills of all. Graduating college means you were exposed to a wide variety of classes, subjects and people that in some shape or form has changed the way that you see the world.

You would be surprised at the value of a liberal arts education in which you learn about the interconnectedness of academic subjects. Once you learn how to apply that philosophy class you took freshman year to the upper-level courses in your major, I swear you could probably find connections between anything. Just being able to understand the way the world works and see things from different points of view puts you at a major advantage in this ever evolving global climate.

So if you’re a twenty-something and currently in the process of being college-educated and you have no idea what you’re doing with your life, let me tell you right now that it’s going to be fine. Turn indecision and fear into opportunity and hope. Research and explore your options. Develop your skills. Pursue your passions and figure out how you can use your untapped talents. Be honest with yourself about what you want your life and your future to look like.

But most of all, don’t worry too much about what you’re going to do out in “the real world.” Just relax, learn new and interesting things and graduate with the knowledge that your adaptability will prepare you for a dynamic future. You have time. Now make the most of it.

Aileen Maki is a senior psychology major from Beavercreek, Ohio.

One thought on “Last minute meditations: after college

  1. Greetings from someone who started his professional journalism career at the Dayton Journal-Herald. (Yes, I know where Beavercreek is. We were even able to backpack through there and pitch camp overnight, back in the day when I was a Boy Scout.)
    I spent the next four decades trying to figure out what I really wanted to be when I finally grew up and about a half-dozen years ago it finally hit me: retired!
    As for advice, I have no idea where this crazy economy is headed or how your generation is going to navigate it. I don’t like what I see. National Cash Register Company used to be an ideal model for a lifetime commitment, but you probably never saw its orderly complex of buildings and the employees’ park. All gone, of course.
    I hope we gain some stability. Best of luck in what unfolds.

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