Seniors should not feel pressured to choose careers right away

By Elizabeth Zakaim
Managing Editor

I’ve never really been a girl with a plan. I’m very much a cross my fingers and do it by the seat of my pants type of person. This attitude has long irritated people who know me well, especially my parents, who have tried to arm me with skills to improve this character flaw.

I’ve been fueled by impulsivity my entire life, so why now, as a senior in college, am I suddenly paralyzed with panic over the fact that I have no idea what my plan is after graduation?

I have to admit that for the past few months, I’ve been struck by the same stomach-dropping feeling I assume most people feel standing at the edge of a cliff, except I’m contemplating what to do with the rest of my life.

Every time someone mentions they have a job lined up after graduation, I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. Why don’t I have a job yet? Why didn’t I apply to graduate school? Visions of me, homeless, picking through garbage in the streets of Manhattan fill my daydreams.

Graduating can be stressful for seniors who are unsure of their career paths. (Flickr)

My mother always threatened she’d change the locks when I turned 18 (she didn’t) but I always worry that living back home would be worse than living in the streets.

I know I won’t be a bum, but I think I’ll just need to accept the eerie feeling of uncertainty that comes with choosing a career. I don’t have a career plan yet because I don’t know what I want to do. I didn’t apply for graduate school because I don’t know what I want to study. Why should I waste time and money into a future I’m unsure about?

I also need to realize that, for once, I’m not the only one without a plan. Every time I gripe to someone about my impending doom, I hear them reassure me that I’m not the only one stuck in this boat. I’m not the only one who feels cornered into choosing a career right after they leave school.

As generations go by, peoples’ roles change. “Adultolescence” is a word generally defined as 20-somethings who have the emotional maturity and the responsibility level of a careless teenager.

However, according to bigthink.com, there is more to word than the negative connotations imply. The timelines of society are changing – instead of getting married in their early 20s and having babies soon after, people are waiting until their late 30s or even early 40s to start a family.

People don’t start at one job and stick with it for the next 30 years, but they jump around from place to place searching for different experiences. Why? Because we’re living longer and we have more physical lifetime ahead of us. According to the site, the average lifetime has doubled since the mid-19th century.

How we view our future, and how long we perceive our lifetimes to be, greatly affects our attitudes. Why bother rushing to bend to the wishes of a society that was modeled for people living years ago?

Even if I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of my life, and even if I move back in with my parents until I can find a job and save up enough to move out and start paying rent, I think I’ll survive. I’ve put in so much work during my four years here that I’m sure I’ll be qualified for some sort of job after I leave.

So my plan for now is to not have a plan, because deciding what I want to do for the rest of my life is a plan that is bound to fall to pieces at some point. I’ll be dusting off my resume and looking out for job opportunities, but I’m going to graduate with an open mind, and, most importantly, options –– though I should probably still run this by my parents, just in case they’ve been talking to a locksmith recently.