What do you want to do when you graduate?
Believe me, you don’t want to know.
This question comes up more often than not. Whether it’s from your peers that are scouting out what everyone around them is doing (what’s up), or from that one distant relative at Thanksgiving- this question will be asked within the last months of your collegiate career, and probably more than once.
The problem, is that neither party involved is ever really ready for the answer.
Our answers are always catered to the person asking the question, and the responses are never what we want to hear.
I usually go into a long, confusing, and seemingly ambitious storyline of my life and each job I plan on holding to get to where I ultimately want to be.
This response is usually given a glazed look of boredom (understandably so), a “wow that’s very ambitious” comment, a “you’re an adorable little dreamer, aren’t you?” smile and nod, or a look of puzzlement as they try to figure out what in the world a public relations professional with an emphasis in digital strategy and writing in fact does (and in all fairness- I’m not entirely sure either).
The other option I tend to go with, is simply stating my major, and explaining that I just want a job and I’m open to anything in my field at this point, any place at this point, as long as I’m employed and generally happy.
This response of mine, which appears more logical I suppose, will get the “that’s a great outlook, so you can really figure out what you want to do” reaction, or the “so you’re pretty unsure about what you want and where you’re going” hug (no, actually I’m pretty sure, I just didn’t want to get into it and risk previous reactions).
Both of my responses are true, and all of these reactions are valid.
However, as you can imagine, these short conversations aren’t always the most fun or stimulating- and that’s no one’s fault. They usually leave us with a mild sense of disappointment, neither person leaving feeling completely fulfilled or having gotten what they wanted out of the conversation. We think, well wait, let me tell you more, I swear I’m on the right path- but the moment is gone, and energy is now lacking.
What’s sad, is that this conversation topic is actually one of my favorites- ranting about goals, dreams and the different possibilities in life is the funnest thing since wine and Netflix. However, it’s not always easy to discuss this subject with everyone- especially in small talk (we’re talking about our lives here, not the weather).
And that’s okay.
Because after looking at these different reactions, these different responses I get from different people in my life, I realized something. I realized that maybe no one else can ever fully understand what is going on in our brains, especially regarding our futures.
Because maybe, we can’t either.
And in all honesty, this topic shouldn’t be brushed over in one question. One complicated question.
Some of us avoid the question completely, refusing to think about what lies ahead. Some of us know exactly what we want to do, and we do everything we need to do each day to get there. Some of us don’t know exactly what we want to do, and we’re okay with that, because we know it will work out. Some of us put on the career-driven and confident front, whilst ending each week a little more confused than the one before (hey, indecisiveness).
Some of us are unsure of where we’re headed. Some of us put up a fronts that says “I know it all,” when really we’re unsure as hell. Some of us know exactly where we’re going.
All we can really know for sure, though, is that we’re seniors in college, and we’re about to embark on the rest of our lives.
We’re scared, we’re confused, we’re excited. We’re everything all at once.
So, what do you want to do when you graduate?
Pull up a chair and let’s talk about that, if you’re up for it.