The Post-Grad Journey: Follow Your Yellow Brick Road … Now
If you’re a recent post-grad, chances are you don’t have anything figured out. Or maybe you have some of it figured out, but when you close your eyes and picture yourself five years down the line, things are somewhat blurry.
This probably gives you heart palpitations. I get it. The future can be scary, especially when you have no idea what it will hold.
If you’re a recent post-grad, you truly are at an advantage. While it sucks to be so discombobulated during this time, it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. Think about it … you can still attribute your mistakes and mistrials under the files appropriately titled: “Lack of experience” or “Youthful Ignorance.”
OK, so you may feel old (I know I do sometimes, especially when I try to party like my freshman self), but the truth is, you’re not. In today’s society, we constantly hear “30 is the 20!” and that means that 22 is the new 18. And that means you’ve got a little more time to figure things out than you probably think you do. It’s easy to rush into the future trying to plan as much as you can, but really, wouldn’t you rather take a few risks and screw up now before you are in your mid-30s with a mortgage and a couple kids?
Take a moment to forget about the fact that, for the first time in your life, you don’t have everything figured out. Breathe. Now realize that the lack of a plan is actually a beautiful thing. While I’m not saying that post-grads should go around excusing their confusion because of youth (“I don’t need to look for a job, mom. I’m young and confused!”), I am saying that being in our 20s gives us leeway to steer ourselves into wrong directions before figuring out our smooth path to the future.
Do you want to be the 40-year-old that hates her job and always has? Hell no! If there is another path you want to take, don’t just leave it for rainy day daydreams. Go for it. Follow your yellow brick road. There is no reason not to – you’re still young and, in the grand scheme of things, you’ve got nothing to lose!
An editor that I have been working with just turned 30 (Editor’s Note: NOT ME!) and she celebrated by quitting her job – something she has been so amazingly great at, something she has dedicated her post-grad life to. She told me that she realized it wasn’t for her anymore, and she decided to change up the pace. Of course, turning 30 had something to do with this change of scenery, but by recognizing that she still had time to change her mind… it was empowering! Being 30 isn’t going to stop her from doing what she wants so why, as a brand spanking’ new post-grad, do so many people seem so scared to do what they really want to do (as opposed to what they should do)?
We post-grads need to stop freaking out and start relishing in our freedom. Yes, freedom. It may not seem so free when you’re applying to 10 jobs a day from the comfort of your parents’ basement with less than $100 to your name, but this is our time to experiment and mess up and start over without any major repercussions. And that, my fellow post-grads, is incredibly freeing.
I frequently get messages from the class of 2011 future post-grads asking me for advice on how to get through their senior year and transition into their post-grad life. I’m not post-grad expert. This part of my life didn’t come with some sort of manual. But there’s a reason for that. While it’s stressful at times, part of being a post-grad (and finally growing up) is figuring all this stuff out for yourself. Everyone has to do it and once you get passed the whole “wait, what sort of health insurance do I need” thing, it’s actually sorta exciting.
At the end of the day, recent college grads have time. Loads of time. So figure things out, even if it means screwing things up. Save yourself the hassle of looking back with regret 20 years from now, because when you really are old (instead of this pseudo elderly disposition that we play into), it really won’t be as easy to go back and start over.
So, here’s to being young and mistake prone.
And here’s to looking to the future, as always.