Everyone has been asking what comes next. What are your plans after graduation? they say. You should be thinking about it, they say. They pry, they prod, they wonder. You and me both! I want to say. As if I had a perfectly packaged reply to parcel out to all those who ask, gleaming with the right amount of ambition and earning potential. If only.
Merely weeks into proudly strutting around campus under the guise of a graduating senior (simultaneously confident and cool, yet creatively maneuvering the unknown to some distant, dusty shelf for a later date), it seems that my identity has imperceptibly shifted from current-student to future-professional without my knowing any better, the unknown future suddenly just around the bend.
But of course people aren’t asking these questions—our friends, our parents, professors and advisors—because they like to watch us shift uncomfortably and gaze downwards. Rather, they are asking because it’s worth thinking about: our collective intentions and ambitions that are in no small part a product of what we’ve done in the last few years, however straight or varied that path has been and will continue to be. They are asking because a lot of us have some really great plans for what’s next.
Be it graduate school, pursuing a well-dreamed-about career path, or hoping to network into something in the coming year, some of us are the planners and the dreamers. And if we don’t fit into these categories, it is because we are embracing this uncertainty. We have lofty dreams but achieving them seems incredibly inaccessible. We have a lot of potential, but we’re not sure where to direct that energy yet. Maybe we’re willing to take any job offered our way simply because we can’t afford not to.
This is good, this is fine, and there is time. Time to falter and time to flourish, back and forth, again and again.