By: Feven Yeshanew
What are your plans once you are done school? Are you applying to grad school once you graduate? Med school? Law school? What program are you in now? What kind of jobs can you get with your degree?
Since when did going to school and conversing with others become an interview regarding my ten-year life plan? We are not psychics, and we don’t have a crystal ball that can see into the future. But as I go into the fourth and final year of my undergraduate degree, I find myself bombarded with the buzz of urgency to figure out the next big move. The incessant way conversations seem to continuously circle the topic of the future causes students both panic and frustration.
For the past three years at McMaster, I have been cosily bubbled in by the idea that my future will figure itself out, and I’ve been dismissing the looming questions of the future. However we will soon be forced to depart from the ever so snuggly bubble and make some “serious” life decisions. With the increased competition for what seems like everything and the growing youth unemployment rates, the idea of graduating can be very daunting.
Now, add in these intimidating questions into the mix, and you’ve got yourself an existential crisis. I had my own angst-induced breakdown this summer, where the pressure of not knowing what I wanted to do following graduation got to me – just as I’m sure it’s getting to most of my fourth year peers. For those of you who know what you’re doing, huzzah! You may be applying to your med schools, your grad schools, your dream jobs, but not everyone is in the same boat. In fact, the unknown collectively daunts those of us who are unsure.
Similar to my fellow fourth year students who have experienced much of the same emotions, I made it to the other side of my meltdown alive and with some insight; it’s okay to be planless. It’s especially okay to not know the next fifty steps of your life. I understand this may be hard to accept. Although most of us need a job to provide us with the money for survival, this said job in no way needs to be the one you do for the rest of your life. Sometimes trial and error results in the best outcomes. Perhaps the best plans are not linear, but are with no particular direction.
We hear of quotes that speak of life as a journey and not a destination, so why is it instilled in our minds that our lives need to be prearranged as if we’re trying reach an arbitrary finish line?
Sometimes the best things in life spring from the unexpected and the unplanned. The only thing left to do is embrace this uncertainty. If you do not know whether to continue in school, get a job, or travel, try your hand at all three or take comfort in knowing that taking time to figure out what feels right is okay.
As for me, I have decided to put off applying to medical school and take a gap year. During this time, I hope to work abroad and acquire a different kind of knowledge that textbooks fall short of providing.
Perhaps we will find our dreams in the unexpected, in a way that we would have never known if we stuck to a single linear plan. Most of all, know that you are not alone in the midst of this frustrating buzz.