This is not the first time I have had a crisis of confidence and I am certain it won't be the last. But somehow that doesn't make it feel any better.
Last week, I had a midsummer crisis about my plans for Physical Therapy school. I wasn't sure I would get accepted anywhere and I was worried that I wasn't doing anything worthwhile with my summer vacation.
After a few tears and a long conversation with my parents, I calmed down. But those fears are still there and very stressful. I know I'm not the only one.
I think there is a large amount of pressure placed on my generation to go, go, go. We are told to get internships, summer jobs, straight A's, and make connections with future employers, all the while trying to enjoy college and being young adults. It is daunting at times and frankly exhausting. I find myself constantly planning for the next season. During my fall semester, I was making plans for PT shadowing and spring classes. During my spring semester, I had to research summer classes and job opportunities back home. Right now, I am using my free time to research physical therapy schools and the courses they require so I can use my last two years of college wisely.
It is so easy to forget that we are only young twenty-somethings who have yet to enter the workforce. We should be allowed to cherish our youth before committing to long-term employment or furthering our education. We should be encouraged to live more in the present.
I'm not saying that we should just kick back and not work for our futures. I am proposing that we pump the brakes and fill our time and resumes with things that matter deeply to us. My resume might not be the most decorated but I am doing my best to make sure it reflects me and what I value. Of course, I am working hard to get into Physical Therapy school. It would be a dream to be accepted and to pursue that career. But I am not fully prepared yet, nor should I be.
If I have learned anything from my future-focused panic, it's that we should all run our own races this summer. We should be encouraging and supportive of our friends but we should never compare our journey to theirs. If I compare my pre-physical therapy path to a student hoping to go into consulting, I will definitely be disappointed. We are running two different races. Our desired careers require different things of us.
Maggie Rogers wrote a song called "Dog Years" about graduating college and all of her friends going separate ways. In the lyrics, she considers counting your time in dogs years (7 for every 1 human year) to mean that you are really valuing your time. She illustrates graduating college as the afterlife because it is the point to which most people have planned but are uncertain of what's next.
I resonate with this song deeply. Although I still have two years left, the impending "afterlife" is scary and watching friends graduate and move on makes it even more challenging. But Maggie is reassuring that in the next season of uncertainty: "We will be alright –– in the afterlife."