Here I am four weeks before classes are over. I am about to finish my Undergraduate Degree at the University of Tennessee. I have been working towards my Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work with a concentration in Child Welfare & a minor in Child & Family Studies. This degree that I’ve been working towards has been my plan and my dream since my sophomore year of college. If anyone knows me, they know I am a planner. I LOVE to plan. To give an accurate depiction, I started planning what I was doing in April while I had a snow day off in February. Anyways, despite all of my planning, my life is filled with a lot of uncertainty. I graduate in 46 days, and it has been a very fun time but also a little frustrating.
Over spring break I applied for my dream entry level job.
The pay is not excellent, but I will be able to live comfortably as a single young woman. I will be able to rent a nice apartment, add to my savings for graduate school, and I can finally afford a car payment! Needless to say, I am just grateful that I am about to have a job with great benefits and great experience at the Bachelor’s level working with children and families.
Since January, I have been bombarded with questions from friends, family friends, and even professors about my post graduation plans. They mostly consist of “What are you going to to after graduation?” and the most popular question is…. “Aren’t you going to go to grad school instead of just working with your Bachelor’s in Social Work?”
I’m flattered that people assume that I can get into grad school, but it’s honestly a very stressful question for me and can be insulting. I know without any doubt that I am going to go to grad school in a year or two and become a Board Certified Mental Heath Clinician in the School Social Work field, but what is wrong with a entry level case management position? Seriously. I’m only 22. I just want experience right now and want that awesome paycheck! Every time I’m asked that question, I immediately think “Am I doing something wrong?” “Did I not plan enough?” “What is wrong with me?”
Even though I am a planner, I work really hard to not plan too much or be hard on myself. I know that sounds silly, but it’s true! If I did all of the things I thought I should be doing, I would lose my mind. I’ve always told myself to do what my parents have told me all my life: if you try your best, you have nothing to worry about; we will always support you. In a time of lots of uncertainty, I have made a point to stay on track with my clear and reasonable goals for post graduation life.
Those questions loom in my mind. Are my plans not acceptable…. am I not striving for enough success? It has been just flat out annoying. I learned in studying human development in school that age 18-24 is called “emerging adulthood” and is a time that consists of the most uncertainty in a person’s life.
Since I have learned this, I’m actually completely okay with the fact that I don’t know where I will be in five years or even next year! I know that I will be in Nashville, but who knows what will happen! I could be married, I could be in graduate school, I could have my own place; so much can happen in my twenties and I cannot wait. In less than 8 weeks, I will receive a diploma for completing my bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee. Not many people can say that, and I am incredibly grateful for my opportunities and resources that I was given.
Not everyone has a mother who will get in her car and be in Knoxville from Nashville less than 3 hours after she went through a breakup. And not everyone has a group of girlfriends who have been together since high school and are like your three extra sisters.
It really is such a crazy and interesting time being in the place that I’m in right now.
I am seriously so excited! I get to start at my first big girl job, buy my first big girl car, and enjoy my twenties!
I’m also sure I’m not alone in feeling like people on the outside can be very critical and judgmental about post graduation plans. It is crazy how many responses that I have gotten from people that consist of:
“Oh. Social Work.”
“Oh, no grad school yet? Cool I guess.”
Or sometimes just an “Oh.”
My thoughts are what the hell! That is so fucking rude! I guess that is just part of what comes with all of the uncertainty. People questioning your plans and being skeptical of them because who knows, I could up and run off to some country and disappear, or make some crazy life change out of the blue.
I know that I have goals that I want to accomplish and I am damn sure that I will get there; I just don’t know how! One of my professors that has been so supportive of my college and career plans told me “be stubborn about your goals but flexible about your methods.” I am a firm believer in that statement while I go through this time of transition an uncertainty.
So basically, for all y’all out there feeling anxious but excited about your future, screw whatever anyone has to say that does not support your goals! But seriously, they are just there to distract you. We are all growing and changing every day. There will be ups and downs and SO much uncertainty, but that’s just part of life! You gotta just take one day at a time. My all time favorite quote that sticks with me through this time comes from Steve Jobs. I came across the quote a couple months ago when I was feeling stressed about finishing up my Senior Thesis. It says, “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
So if you’re feeling that pressure of finding a job that will “look good” or making plans that will be “acceptable” for what people think you should do, throw all that out the window. Do what makes you happy! If you want to move to Spain, go to Spain! If you want to move back in with your parents like me, go move back in with them and save those dollars! If you have absolutely no clue what you want to do, it’s completely normal. In a time of uncertainty in your early twenties, I advise people to be certain about one thing and that’s their happiness.