By Samantha Milowitz || Op-Eds Editor
In thirteen days, I will be graduating college.
While most can agree that graduating college is a great accomplishment and a cause for celebration, I think the class of 2021 would agree with me when I say it is also full of a lot of unease. Graduating college coincides with a lot of endings: The end of college, the end of going to school, the end of it being acceptable to live with your parents… That many endings is enough to induce plenty of anxiety without adding in the factor of everyone asking you (over and over again):
What are you going to do after graduation?
If you know me, you know I hate when people ask me that. Or, when people ask anyone graduating from college that question. Now, this question often comes from adults: Parents, grandparents, professors, neighbors, random adults walking across the street. And it makes me angry for a couple of reasons: One, it implies that everyone graduating from college knows what they’re going to do next (which most of us don’t). Two, most of the time, the answer we give is not the answer people want; oftentimes when I tell adults I want to write for television, they look at me like I have a third head. “Why are you asking then if you don’t like the answer?” I always think. Three, we as college seniors put enough pressure on ourselves for the future without other adults jumping in and interrogating us. And lastly, four, the question itself focuses on the importance of a person’s job or future instead of how the person is doing or what they want or dream to do.
I don’t know what I’m going to do.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “well, that’s why she doesn’t like that question. It’s because she doesn’t know what she’s doing for a job.” You have a point, reader. However that is not why I hate that question; this question has not just come up this year, but every year before that. Adults always want to know what the next step is – the next move before we’ve even completed the first move. The only issue now, with being a senior in college, is that there isn’t a clear next step: not everyone is going to go on to grad school or get a job; everyone is going to have their own unique path. So now, when people ask us what we’re going to do, our answer is more uncertain and vague because, for most of us, we don’t know what we’re going to do. And that’s okay.
For the last several months, I’ve been job searching; I scan linkedin and indeed and look for jobs that excite me. So far I’ve applied to some but have not been accepted anywhere. I love to write and be creative and could see myself doing many different things: I could see myself writing for a magazine or a newspaper. I could see myself working at a publishing house or a theatre or a news station. I could see myself in New York or California or Massachusetts… So for me, the future feels very wide and open which can be scary sometimes but also kind of thrilling; for the first time in my life, nothing is planned out for me. It’s a beginning to a whole new part of my life I haven’t experienced yet.
I know that one day I will find a job that’s right for me – one that I love in a place I feel I belong – and it’s okay that I don’t have it figured out right now. Even the people who seem like they have everything figured out, I guarantee they don’t. All of us, we’re just stumbling through life trying to find our place and our passions.
So, class of 2021, the next time someone asks you “what are you going to do?” tell them you’re just figuring it out. And then, ask them if when they were your age they had their future figured out. That should shut them up.
Senior Samantha Milowitz is the Op-Eds editor. Her email is email@example.com.