“What do you want to be when you grow up?”This question has been cooed to us since we first tottered into academia at age 5, and has been paraphrased in our early-twenties, morphing into the more serious question of,“What do you want to do when you graduate?”
For many, answering this query is a no-brainer. If you were the guy doodling at the back of class in school, it’s always been clear you were going to be an artist. If you were the girl who had an irritating inability to ever back down in an argument, there was no question that the courtroom was in your destiny. Always getting curious stares on non-uniform day for wearing colourful “crazy” sartorial concoctions? It’s always been a given that you, were set to be the toast of (insert fabulous capital city’s name here) Fashion Week.
However, for many, it’s not so easy to beam and spiel off what you’ve known for the majority of your life. For a lot of people the question elicits dread, sweaty palms, a constricted throat, and a stuttering tongue because (shock-horror) you don’t really know what you want to do once you venture out of the cushy University bubble and into the big bad world. Your peers are bright-eyed and eager, high on hopes and dreams with clouds serving only as a stepping stone towards those aspirations, and you’re there, feeling stuck and disillusioned because you have no idea what you want to be doing for the next fifty years. To be frank, you’re feeling pretty rubbish about yourself.
But has it ever occurred to anyone to query why we should we know what we want to do upon graduation? Why is there pressure to know precisely what you want to be doing for the rest of your life? Of course, for many, university serves to refine and hone the direction we want to take in terms of our career, but what about the people who leave more confused than ever? Who spent three years to do a degree for the sake of having a degree, or for the appeasement of their parents? Should they be made to feel bad, because they still haven’t figured out what they want to be when they “grow up”?
The answer to this is no. Whilst it is fantastic if University has clarified what exactly you want to do with your life, it is not the end of the world if it hasn’t. For many graduating this summer, we’ve barely even “grown up”. We’re still finding ourselves and discovering who exactly we are; a crucial process that should not be rushed-even if it’s taking us a little longer than expected. Do not buckle under the pressure of outside expectations and the norm. Don’t work in that nine to five office job that you know you’ll hate to please your parents and fit in with your friends. Find you first; assess what you want out of life, what you want to contribute to the world and go forth and conquer.