When I was in college, I remember that I was so excited to graduate. I am never one of those students who see college as an opportunity to have parties every weekend. In fact, I was the opposite. I spend my days daydreaming of nights where I don’t have to study for a long exam. I thought, I am more ready for the “real life” after college.
However, what I didn’t expect is that after graduation, I ended up feeling stagnant. I feel pressured not because the people around me are setting expectations, but because I thought everything would go smoothly after college. This is definitely a transition that I thought will be easy.
If you have been relating to me so far, the question that you have may also be the dreaded, “What now?” As the years pass by, there are many opportunities out there after graduation. However, that doesn’t make it any easier too.
Besides the fact that the competition is more difficult than ever, being fresh out of graduation automatically sets us back because of our lack of experience. And if you have student loans, you have this constant worry at the back of your mind right after graduation.
Below are three steps that you can easily remember if you are someone struggling to find the answer to “what now?” after graduating.
Step 1: Find the Right Career
When I say “find the right career”, it also means that it’s okay if, at the moment, it’s better to wait for it. That doesn’t mean that you should let once-in-a-lifetime opportunities go, it’s just that I want you to understand that it’s okay if you don’t know what is the “right” career for you.
Sometimes, we have to make compromises and sacrifices so that we grow into the person that we need for the future. If you always feel unsatisfied and uninspired with the career that you have, you might end up getting burnout.
If you are always in the state of being mentally drained, overwhelmed, and incompetent, it will take a toll on both your mental and physical health. Naturally, it’s difficult to feel motivated to go to work every day, if you’re not passionate about your career.
In an ideal scenario, every one of us has the capacity to switch careers without it having a massive effect on our lives. However, sometimes, we have to power through a profession we don’t love because of different factors like financial stability.
What you can do is find a purpose in your career that you don’t like. Think of this moment in your life, not as a setback, but instead, the opposite. It is only preparing to launch you into something better. Use this opportunity to get to learn more about yourself, your strengths, and your weaknesses.
Step 2: Decide What You Want to Do
Having a sense of what we should do, or we should go gives us a feeling of security. We had this during college because every day, you only have to worry about the classes, the exams, and the schedules. But when the framework was stripped away after graduation, you can’t help but feel stuck and uncertain.
Obviously, this will make you worried because you don’t know what will happen. Therefore, you need to create the framework yourself. This includes your finances, your chosen career, your social life, and things that will help you stay passionate about life.
One of the things we set on our minds, especially after college is that we shouldn’t waste any time not doing anything. However, if we do things without careful planning, we are just setting ourselves further away from progress.
Maybe you can benefit from taking long walks. Did you know that studies have shown the benefits of taking long walks to our mood and mind? You might need some time alone to be able to come up with the best decision. Your mind should be clear of any doubts and distractions so that you can clearly decide on what you want.
I have a friend from law school who decided to do a hiatus after graduating. College has been very stressful for her, and she felt like she almost forgot why she wanted to be a lawyer. According to her, the reason why she decided to spend the year just traveling while her colleagues review for the bar exam is because she needs to refresh her mind and emotions. Afterward, she managed to pass the bar exam and is now happy working at a firm.
Now, deciding on what you want to do after college is easier said than done. Not everyone has tunnel vision and is able to know exactly what they want. If you have a vision, even if it’s not as specific, you’ll be able to design yourself and your life to prepare for it.
If you think about it, having a general idea is much better than wanting to hit something bullseye. During your road towards your goal, your ideas might change. And that is fine because you are already two or three steps ahead to get you there.
Step 3: Be Ready for Changes
Once you have a game plan, the next step is to be ready for changes. Perhaps one of the things that add pressure to you is the fact that you think you won’t be able to handle new things. The familiar is comfortable, but you wouldn’t be able to feel fulfilled if you aren’t stepping out of your comfort zone.
Maybe you need to relocate in order to get access to more opportunities? And what about the new place? Are you ready to be financially independent and maintain your own place while also finding a job?
I remembered after moving to this place, and I had to call my father to teach me about gas tankless water heaters because guides online didn’t exist yet. It may seem like an odd thing to be proud of, but I feel really good about myself just because I managed to get hot water running in my new place.
My point is graduating after college is not going to be comfortable and easy. The experience might be even so far away from how we imagine it. But regardless, never compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 10. I know that’s a cliche reminder, but even if you feel like you’re not going anywhere, just following the three steps above will bring you to where you need to be.