Now What?

now what

By Alejandro Ramos   Editor-In-Chief

When I was a senior in high school, my class went on a camping trip to a little campground. It was nestled right up against the ocean, about three hours north of the San Francisco Bay and about as far away as we could get without going off the grid. 

One night, a couple of my friends and I snuck away to go exploring. We ended up sitting and talking on a cliff overlooking the ocean. In the mister of laughter and conversation, I found myself getting lost in the vastness of the sight before us. Out there, far from civilization, the night sky was dark and never ending. The moon and the stars sat above us, illuminating the water below us so we could see the wave crashing on the rocks. In that moment, I was left speechless.

Now, as a college senior, I find myself feeling the same. I’m in the middle of my last year with the vastness of my own future ahead of me. 

That’s kind of scary.

chairs

In a couple of months, I’ll be graduating. I’ll don a cap and gown. I’ll walk across a stage and shake the President Conoley’s hand. I’ll receive my diploma. And just like that I’ll go from being an undergraduate to a graduate.

And, the journey that I’ve been on the past couple of years will finally come to an end. I won’t have to wake up early to go to class or stay up late to finish papers. I won’t have to down gallons of coffee to get through the day. I’ll finally be able to breathe and just relax for once instead of feeling tense and tired all the time.

To put it simply, graduating will be a source of joy and relief, and yet… there’s more to it, you know? I feel it. Every senior I’ve spoken to feels it. We all feel it, even if we express it in different ways. It’s a feeling that’s hard to put into words. It’s a mix of dread and apprehension. Determination and confidence. Courage and fear.

And it all comes from the fact that we have no idea what we’ll be doing after we graduate.

For the first time in years, we won’t be following the lifestyle of a college student. Instead, we’ll be struggling to fill the void that college used to fill. Whether it is with a job, graduate school, or just plain loafing around, we’ll keep trying until we figure something out 

Whatever the case; the weeks, and even months, after graduating are this big unknown to us. That’s why we all get stumped when people ask us the age old question: Where do you see yourself in a year?

If you asked me that, I’d probably flash a smile and shrug nonchalantly. I’d talk real cool and say a couple of words. “Who knows?” I’ll say. “I guess I’ll be working and making money.”

mountains

The truth is that I don’t have a clue. And the same goes for a lot of the people around me.

Still, we all have rehearsed answers to this question. Some of us talk about the plans we have to pursuing internships and jobs. Some of us talk about taking time off to figure things out and spend time with family. Despite what we say, there is always a lingering feeling of doubt and confusion and fear.

It’s not all bad, though. You would think we’re all lost and afraid as to what we’re going to do following graduation. To say that we’re afraid would be insulting, though. That implies that we’re going to shy away from the challenge of going out and making something of ourselves, and that isn’t true. We all want to do great things. The problem is that we’ve grown up being told how difficult it is to be great as a young person. That’s the kind of

And we have every right to be because every year we hear stories from graduates voicing their problems. They fill out dozens of job applications to no avail. They give up after multiple failed attempts at getting jobs. They feel the need to return to graduate school after all their other plans fall flat.

It’s not like these stories come out of thin air. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, nearly half of half of new graduates are underemployed, meaning they’re working jobs that don’t require a college degree. On top of that, Jeff Selingo, author of “There Is Life After College”, reported that one-third of young adults spend most of their twenties trying to get a career going.

It doesn’t help that we take that all in and parrot the the same concerns amongst ourselves. What if I can’t find even an entry-level position? What if my GPA is too low and I can’t get into grad school? What if I’m not qualified enough for either? What if I just wasted my time and money on college when I could’ve just worked? Once you hear these fears and concerns enough times you end up internalizing them. Believing them.

What can we do then? Should we just accept that we’ll have to struggle for a while after graduating? Should we give up all hope of a smooth transition out of school and into the workforce?

I can’t say I have the answers. I can’t tell you where I’ll be in a year. I can’t come up with a concrete plan for what I’ll do after June. I, like many others, will just hope for best outcome.

The future is vast. It’s an open space for us to occupy. We can either get lost trying to navigate through it or build something for ourselves. Both options are fine. There is no right or wrong way to live after graduating. We’ve lived the past couple of years following the paths others set for us. It’s time for us to venture out and go down paths of our own.

alex lifehappens

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