The Post Grad Journey: “What Do You Want To Be?”
When I was little, I wanted to be a ballerina, a doctor, a lawyer, a novelist, a teacher, an Academy Award winning actress, a painter, and pretty much every other profession under the sun. In high school and college, I wanted to be a social media expert, a children’s literature publishing guru, a writer, and of course, a lawyer.
I think it’s interesting how when you are younger people tell you that you can be anything you want to be, or anything that you will set your mind to. Although we all wish this was true, that’s not always the case. Come adulthood, people get caught up in stereotypes and expectations. Salaries and “good” jobs. What (they think) you should be.
And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.
Since becoming a post-grad, I have heard so many people question my aspirations. I’ve seen it happen to my friends too. Parents, professors, friends, significant others, and just about every extended family members start with questions: “Why do you want to go abroad and live in South Africa after graduation?” “Why do you want to go to school at that school?” “You got your degree in economics, so you should go to grad school for that — or else you wasted four years.” In my case, I’ve heard a lot of “Why did you major in English if you don’t want to be a journalist?” and then “You were born a writer — you shouldn’t pursue law school.”
Um, while I appreciate the input, I just can’t help but find myself irked when statements like that are made. Unless I’m asking for career advice or making a life-altering decision, there is no reason why the things that I want to do should be in question. It feels like I can’t make my own decisions, or that people aren’t 100% with me. Or that, oh the horror, I’m making a terrible decision that I will regret for the rest of my life and I should just start over from scratch. Seriously, people, I’m fragile right now; I need support, not someone to question my choices!
Luckily, I haven’t been experiencing this my entire life. Some people are told from the beginning of their childhood “you will be (insert some kind of profession here).” And their parents plan accordingly, never letting the kid figure out what they want. But maybe those kids are better off? Their lives are on one specific track, decided by mom and dad. They don’t need to question anything; they simply just have to go with the flow. Me — not so much. It’s my path to choose, whether I want to go to law school or become a writer or move to Africa and build schools. It’s all up to me… and having all those choices is scary.
So, here is my plea for myself and all other post-grads out there: Butt out. No post grad, especially in this economic climate, needs to be doubted or told to redirect themselves. If we want advice, trust me, we’ll ask. But if I’m just doing my thing, I don’t need to hear your opinion. I spend so much time second guessing myself and sorting out the prospects of my future, I don’t need anyone else getting into my head and making it worse.
But really, from now on, when people ask me what I am doing or what I want to be, I’m going to say one thing and one thing only: “Happy. I want to be happy.” Being happy may not be an answer that people want to hear in terms of “What I want to be,” but at the end of the day, I think it’s the end-all-be-all of trying to figure all this stuff out anyway.
And if nothing else, at least it will shut them all up.