There are six more weeks left of this semester. I counted. Six more weeks until my junior year of college is officially over and I’m one year from graduating. I’ve written before about how scary it is to know that the future is coming so fast. I don’t know for sure what I’m doing after graduation, and I fear every day that this career I’ve chosen isn’t going to pan out for me.
I think most college students would agree that impending graduation is a scary concept. I like to think I’m not alone in asking myself questions about my future that scare me. What if I can’t get a job? What if I’m no good at this or, even worse, what if I hate it?
I saw a quote from Suzy Kassem on a poster somewhere on campus that said, “Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.” I had been thinking about those questions when I read that quote and it kind of made me feel guilty for doubting my dreams. I wondered how many things I have talked myself out of doing because I doubted my abilities or was afraid things wouldn’t work out. On the other hand, I thought about the times I tried something that didn’t work out right. Honestly, those experiences gave me some good stories. At least I could say that I tried, that I learned.
My dad just graduated with his master’s degree at 46 years old. I know that he has worked in construction, as a truck driver, an EMT and as a computer programmer — those are just the jobs I remember him talking about. He has so many stories from his life. Things haven’t always worked out for him, but he always seemed to figure something out. And now he has his master’s and is looking for something new.
Being at his graduation reminded me of something F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about how it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. He continued on to say, “I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over.”
That’s probably the best reassurance for me. With only six more weeks and a whole lot of doubts, it’s nice to be reminded that there’s always time for me to start over. The average life span for someone in the U.S. is 78 years old. I’ve only used 20 of those years, so that leaves plenty for me to recalculate, theoretically.
Looking at my dad’s life and the lives of others in my family, I have also learned that it’s important to work for the things you want. I remember one time in particular that I spent a good 20 minutes whining to my aunt about some class award that I didn’t win. She just looked at me and said, “If you’re not going to work for it then you don’t get to complain about not having it.”
I know that sounds harsh, but she was completely right. If I really wanted that, I should have worked for it.
If I want this degree to work out for me, then I need to be willing to work hard for it. After changing my major from journalism to social work, I wrote a list of all the reasons that was a good decision. Now, I read that list whenever I need a reminder of what I’m working for. I read it when I’m tired of all the assignments or overwhelmed to the point of wanting to quit.
When you ask yourself those questions about whether or not things are going to go in your favor after graduation, remind yourself why you chose this career for yourself. Why do you want this?
I think it’s also good to remind yourself that if it ultimately just doesn’t work out, it’s OK. It’s never too late to start over.