Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The After Graduation Question

I’m sure I’m not the only one headed to visit family this Fourth of July holiday, and while I am so excited for the nice break from reality one thing I’m not excited about is the after graduation question. I know as an incoming college senior, the question on every extended family member and family friend’s mind is “what’s your after graduation plan”. I don’t blame them because the same question is on my mind multiple times a day. And while I like to think I have a pretty good idea of what I’d like to do I absolutely hate being asked this question. I know the question has no ill intentions but it always makes me feel like I’m behind or I’m missing something. Like at 21 your already supposed to have it all perfectly figured out. Because if not suddenly someone’s asking why you gave up on your 6th-grade dream of being a lawyer and someone else is grilling you for not knowing exactly what suburb of Charlotte you’d want to live in. 

I feel like I get the most slack because I don’t want to go to graduate school. I feel like when you’re planning on going to grad school it’s okay to not have it figured out because you have to worry about getting in or not to schools. But when you're trying to get a job, people act like it’s like a whole other ball game. Despite the fact that the application process to jobs is just as unpredictable as grad school admission somehow you’re supposed to know exactly what city you're going to live in and what job you are going to get. Yeah, man wouldn't that be nice to know. I can talk about the areas I’m interested in and the cities I’d love to live in all day long but people don’t really want to hear that. They want a concrete answer so they can report back to their friends and family and say Ashley is planning on doing x job in y city. They want the simple and easy, but there isn’t always a simple and easy answer. And that's okay.

What matters is not that you have it figured out but that you are figuring it out. That you are making a conscious effort to think about different jobs, try new things, research areas you may want to live, learn and experience life. At the end of the day, that’s what really counts. I’m glad I haven’t limited myself to one city or one type of job after graduation. I like that I get to explore my options and find what I think will be the best fit instead of getting my heart set on one particular thing. So imperfectly answer the after graduation question with pride and confidence because you’re not supposed to have it figured out at 21 years old. 

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