By Lauren Galvan
It finally happened. My mother and I were talking in her room like we always do, just enjoying each other's company when she popped the anxiety-inducing question, “what are you going to do after you graduate?”
With graduation right around the corner, I find myself growing more and more worried every day. When my mother asked that question, I panicked and asked her if she was going to kick me out. I knew she wasn’t but I wanted to dodge the hard question as quickly as possible.
A few days later, she brought it up again, genuinely curious about what I have planned for my future. Since then, I have been in a continuous spiral thinking about finally leaving the safety net that college provided me.
I have been a student for 18 years, five of which were dedicated to being a college student. Being in school has provided me with a safe space that I knew I could always fall back on. It has given me a community of friends and professors who I knew would always be there. There has always been a certain feeling of comfort that came with being a full-time student. Who am I without that safety net? What will become of me when I finally leave this chapter of my life?
There has always been something to advance to after a level of education. When you leave sixth grade, you go to middle school, and after that, you go to high school. You can even decide to carry on with college, and the options are endless when it comes to choosing the college and major you want to pursue. There is a lot to look forward to and a sea of things to explore. Even then, it comes with the familiarity of something we have been doing since we were children.
As far back as I can remember, I know I have always loved writing. When I chose to become a journalism student, I decided that that was what I wanted to dedicate my higher education to. I know that I love the field I have chosen, so why do I find myself freaking out every time my future becomes the topic of conversation? It could have to do with my commitment issues, but that is for my therapist’s ears only.
When I think about my future, my mind draws a blank, and I feel like I need to bury myself in my school work to help distract myself. Then, I find myself thinking about how I will no longer have school work to fall back on, and thus, the vicious cycle starts all over again.
There are only a couple of weeks left until I finally get a handshake and my bachelor’s degree handed to me. Not only that, I have finals and projects that need to get done before I can even think about enjoying my graduation. And now, my mother has decided to plague my mind with the question I fear the most.
For some reason, after all I have done to build up a decent resume, I feel like it isn’t enough and that my portfolio, which is filled with five years' worth of articles, won’t help me get a job. Journalism is one of those fields where you always get asked, “what are you going to do with a degree like that?” or, my personal favorite, “is that even a real major?” Even though I will defend my choice until I am blue in the face, those questions eat away at me and haunt my mind. What am I going to do with my degree?
The answer: I have no idea, but I know that I have people who will support me and my decisions no matter what. It is strange, knowing that I can apply to any job and look qualified on paper but feel like I have no business being in the field yet.
I have to remind myself that, even though I don’t have a job lined up for after I graduate, that doesn’t mean that I won’t find one, and it doesn’t mean that I’m not good enough to find a place that will hire me. Self-worth is not based on who makes the most money or who gets the nicest job straight out of college, but it is about the quality and the passion you put into your work.
Even though I am absolutely terrified of what the future holds for me, I think I am going to be just fine…as long as no one else asks me what I am going to do after I graduate. Life is hard enough right now, and I want the vicious cycle of worrying to end for the time being. Let me finish finals in peace, and then maybe we can talk about the dark mass of nothing that is my future.