“So, what’s the plan after?”
If you are like me, in the final stretch of university before you walk on that stage and receive your $40,000 piece of paper, you’ve probably heard that phrase a lot. Perhaps you already have it all figured out. If that’s the case, then this article will serve as your daily confidence boost and congratulations on getting your shit together. You see, most of us “average people” are still stuck in the dream phase, and often find ourselves day in and day out struggling to wake up.
“I’m taking it a step at a time,” “I’m still exploring my options,” “I’m just taking a break to figure out what I’m going to do.”
Those are the answers we’ve become accustomed to giving. We give them to spare ourselves from catching a disappointed look and being forced to engage in a dreadful conversation with those who have “made it.” The reality is that at this point in time, all we have are value-driven dreams and aspirations of what we hope of achieving, but we have no clue how we’re going to get there. And that’s okay.
This may not be the first time you are finding yourself in this position. Think back to four or five years ago, when you were 18 and faced with making a decision that was supposed to determine the rest of your life, or so they made you believe.
We took a leap of faith going into university because, quite frankly, we didn’t know any better. For some, their degree choice was based on extensive research about degree projections and financial prospects. Think of it like going to Subway and ordering the Sub of the Day because it yields the most return on your investment.
But for others—like me—we decided to build our own sub. We crafted our degree based on personal aspirations and passions, and neglected, often on purpose, to research possible career options. Personally, I went with a five-year long political science degree flavoured with Psychology and Education Studies (with a few U of Tears to top it all off).
The phrase “what could you possibly do with that degree” rang in my ears time and time again. Deep down I knew the odds were against me in the job market, but somehow I was hoping to inspire change and eventually make it up the signature menu.
Over these past few years, my educational journey has been an internal struggle between fitting in by paving a “conventional” path, and standing out by striving to find my purpose. And along that search for purpose, the education system, informed by our society’s values, kept pushing me toward an image of “ideal success” that was nothing short of superficial.
I was told that in order to get a “real” job, I had to get an ‘A’ in school and pursue a “real” degree in university. Ironically enough, “real” felt like more of a fabrication than anything else.
The truth of the matter is that tuition fees have started to rack up, and we find ourselves in need of that “real” job that everybody speaks about, whatever it may be. At this point, we’ve begun to deconstruct our ideals and attach ourselves to society’s so-called “purpose.” Eventually, we’ll end up getting stuck in a money-seeking narrative, and neglect our journey towards self-discovery.
When this happens (maybe it already has), just take a step back and remember what it was you were craving in the first place. Keep your dream alive, and the rest will follow later.
Graduating may seem like you’ve hit a fork in the road. You may be unsure of which path to follow. Throw society into the mix, and it may feel like there’s a bear chasing you. The choices and the paths are endless, and you may pave them all if you’re hungry for adventure.
Just remember to always listen to your gut, because it always knows. And you never know, maybe a sub wasn’t meant for you. If you get lost and end up wandering into a Burger King, just indulge in a Whopper while you’re there. And the next time somebody asks you, “what’s the plan after?” you can say, “I’m just thinking about where my foot lands next.”
Stop, breathe, and savour the journey.