Here’s a tip to adults, children, high school students, underclassman, elders, basically anyone other than a college senior: The most ANNOYING question you can ask a senior in college is “What are you doing after graduation?”
Do you think we know that? Even if we do have plans, do you think we want to discuss life-after-college with you? Or even THINK about life after college?
Alright, I’m generalizing a bit right now because there are those lucky fellas majoring in finance or something who have had job offers since they were freshmen, and those who somehow have the biggest savings account in the world despite attending a $50k/year private university and are back-packing Asia for a TBA amount of time after graduation, but as for a good portion of us: WE.DO.NOT.KNOW.WHAT.WE.ARE.DOING.COME.MAY.
I realized how much this question bothered me personally today when my neighbor came into my house as I was sitting in my pajama pants at about 1 PM and trolling the interwebz and began asking me questions about post-grad.
*Smiling politely* “I’m not sure yet.”
Neighbor: “What do you mean you’re not sure….? What are you going to do? What can you do?”
Sir, I don’t know what about the phrase “I’m not sure yet” you did not comprehend, but I am not sure yet. I do not know. I have no idea. Is that clear?
Apparently not, because this conversation proceeded the same way for about 5-10 more minutes until I progressively got more aggressive with my answers “I DON’T KNOW!” and my dad chimed in “How about this new moulding on the wall…?” directing the subject away from my pathetic lack of future plans towards our lovely living room decor.
Thanks Dad. Always there to save the day.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy thinking about or even discussing the future, but my future is wide open right now. I am focusing on deadlines for volunteer programs, job searching, internships, places to live, etc in my free time alone.
It seems as though many of my classmates are doing the same over this winter break.
Every time I talk to a fellow-senior, they are in the middle of applying to graduate school, or finishing up a resume, or writing a personal statement for a volunteer program. And the phrase “the uncertainty of my future” comes up almost daily in conversation with them.
We are all uncertain. We are all young. We are in our early twenties. Why do we need to know what what we are doing after graduation? Why do we need to know where we will be a year from now?
We don’t. And we won’t. We are still figuring ourselves out. We are still mid-applications and mid-deadlines and mid-confused.
Let us be. Let us figure ourselves out. Let us be overwhelmed with our possibilities. Why is there so much pressure on us that we need to know who we are supposed to be as a post-grad?
If you are asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” to be nice or out of general interest: that’s fine. But when we say “I’m not sure yet”, let it go. Let us explore and let us figure it out. Give us advice, sure. But don’t be disappointed with our acceptance of the fact that the future is wide open to us.
And for the love of God do not, NOT relentlessly ask us over and over again expecting a different answer. (That’s a sign of insanity according to Einstein. So who’s the unstable one now!?)
But be aware that by asking us “What are you doing after graduation?” you are forcing us to live in the future. It’s my last semester in college. I’ll figure it all out on my own time within this semester, but for now, I’m going to focus on living it up these last few months of freedom I have left. When I’m not physically working on those deadlines and applications, I’d prefer to not have to think or talk about them. I’d rather think or talk about that upcoming concert or the wonderful friends I’ve spent the last four years of college with.
So if I, or any other college senior politely responds “I’m not sure yet”, take a hint that we don’t want to discuss post-graduation plans with you. Not now, not until we have it figured out.