I Don't Know What I'm Doing When I Graduate, And It's Still OK

I Don't Know What I'm Doing When I Graduate, And It's Still OK

Whatever I thought would happen, it still hasn't yet.
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I don't know what I expected. Did I think that one of the many career fairs I've attended would lead me to the perfect first job? Did I envision myself reading the want ads in a newspaper over a cup of coffee, circling possibilities in red? Maybe I thought one of the places I've interned during my summer breaks would offer me a permanent position.

Whatever I thought would happen, it still hasn't yet.

Part of the situation is due to my course of study. I chose to major in History and English, knowing full well that liberal arts degrees are often more valuable for the things you learn than for the career path to which they lead. And I was OK with that; I knew I wasn't cut out to be a nurse or an engineer, and I was confident that History and English would give me translatable skills to do something I loved someday.

The question has become, what is it I love? I love museums; maybe I'll work in one. I love to travel, so it would be so cool to work abroad. I can spend hours reading and analyzing literature, so maybe I'll go to grad school and become a professor. I feel strong moral and political convictions, I could really make a difference for an organization I care about.

The problem is, even though I know I'm not locked into my first job, I still have so many ideas about where to go and what to do, and I'm still not sure which path to take first. I feel like I need a bit more time to explore the possibilities and see if any doors open or close. I know that I will work hard and gain experience wherever I end up, but I want to make sure I know what I'm doing before I commit to something.

So what now? Well, the summer stretches out before me, and after four years of school interspersed with periods of working breaks, I think I fancy a bit of a rest. I want to take some time off from intellectual labor. I might fit in a few road trips to visit family and friends, which would be harder to do if I already had a job lined up.

I also might finally get a chance to try my hand at something I've always wanted to do: work as a barista. I always thought it would be so cool to learn how to make espresso beverages and spend extended amounts of time in my favorite hometown coffee shop, and now seems like the perfect time to finally DO IT.

Living at home for a few more months will also just give me a chance to spend some much-needed quality time with the family before my situation changes more drastically. I can't wait to make dinner with them, go to church together, and experience some summer fun like we haven't in years since I've been in school or away for internships. We've always been close, and I know we always will be, but I really want to invest some time into these relationships before I make myself busy all over again.

It's not going to be easy, especially as I see friends and classmates getting recruited for positions and accepting the jobs of their dreams. As is the case with prospective college grads, I have already been getting SO many questions about my plans, and I've just had to smile and respond with a graceful, diplomatic "still checking out my options." I know I'll find something soon, that this is the right path for me, and that ultimately my worth as a person is not in my employment situation after graduation.

So, if you're reading this, no need to ask me -- but feel free to help me pray that I'll end up where I'm supposed to be!

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Corso

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To High School Seniors In Their Last Semester

Senior year moves pretty fast; if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
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Dammit, you made it. The final semester of your senior year. You’re at the top of the food chain of high school, and it feels so good. You’re probably praying this last semester flies by, that you get out of town as soon as possible.

At this point, you’re calling teachers by their first names, the entire staff knows you by name, and you’re walking around school standing tall, owning those hallways. You’re convinced you’re ready to leave and move on to the next chapter in your life.

You’ve already experienced your last football game, standing in the cold in the front row of the student section all season long, decked out in your school colors and cheering loud and proud. That is, until they lost, and you realized you will never have that experience again. Never again.

SEE ALSO: What I Wish I Knew As A Second-Semester High School Senior

You already had your last winter break. Preparing and celebrating the holidays with your family, ice skating and sledding with your best friends. Those quiet nights alone in your room watching Netflix, taking for granted your loved ones just a few rooms away. Never again.

If you’re an athlete, you may have already played in your last game or ran your last race. The crowd cheering, proudly wearing your school’s name across your chest, giving it your all. For some, it may be the end of your athletic career. Before you knew it, you were standing in an empty gym, staring up at the banners and thinking about the mark you left on your school, wondering where on earth the time went. Never again.

I’m telling you right now, you’re going to miss it all. Everything you’ve ever known. Those early mornings when you debate going to first hour because you really need those McDonald’s hash browns. The late nights driving home from practice, stopping for ice cream of course, ready for a late night of homework. Getting food on a whim with your friends. Endless fights with your siblings. Your favorite chips in the pantry. A fridge full of food. Coming home to and getting tackled by your dog. Driving around your hometown, passing the same sights you’ve seen every day for as long as you can remember. Hugs from your mom after a long day. Laughs with your dad. And that best friend of yours? You’re going to miss them more than anything. I’m telling you right now, nothing will ever be the same. Never again.

SEE ALSO: I'm The Girl That Enjoyed High School

Before you start packing your bags, slow down, take a deep breath, and look around. You’ve got it pretty good here. The end of your senior year can be the time of your life; it’s truly amazing. So go to the winter dance, go to Prom, spend Senior Skip Day with your classmates, go to every sporting event you can, while you still can. College is pretty great, but it’s the little things you’re gonna miss the most. Don’t take it for granted because soon, you’ll be standing in a packed gym in your cap and gown, wondering where the heck the time went. You’ve got a long, beautiful life ahead of you, full of joy but also full of challenges. You’re going to meet so many wonderful people, people who will treat you right and people who won’t.


So, take it all in. Be excited for the future and look forward to it, but be mindful of the present. You’ve got this.
Cover Image Credit: Hartford Courant

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Those Old Photographs Show A Girl I Don't Recognize Anymore

Reflection on what once was, and what now is.

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Sometimes, I look through old pictures.

Whether it be scrolling through my camera roll on my iPhone, my various social media accounts or even the pictures people have tagged me in over the years. What I see, however, disturbs me. I look into the eyes of the girl who covers every inch of my accounts, the girl in almost every other picture on my camera roll.

I don't see me.

What I do see: a stranger. Happy, pure, stress-free. A girl whose smile stretches from ear to ear, whose eyes shine bright like little shooting stars. Nonchalant dimples. Slightly messy hair, a dirtier blonde. She's usually placed with friends who turned out to not actually be friends or the occasional guy that she thought was going to be the one. So optimistic.

Who is she, and where did she go?

Over time, she starts to look a little more stressed. Her eyes start to dull, and the smile lessens until it's barely there in photographs. Her hair does lighten over time, but soon she will realize that it will never be light enough for her liking. A secret perfectionist.

The stranger starts to look more and more like the girl I see in the mirror every morning, and this is when I finally have to come to terms with the fact that I once was that girl.

Was.

I'm not saying I'm not happy. I still smile, I still laugh. It's just that there are only so many events a person can go through before they really start to change. So here, at this point in time, is when I really have to sit down and think. Think about what lessened that smile. Think about what turned the sparkle in those eyes into tears. Think about everything that made me feel anything less than content.

It's not just things. It's people. Human beings. Terrible, horrible, human beings. They come into your life, and you want to believe that people are good and that they are just as caring as you are.

Wrong.

They will break you. Whether it be soft and slow, or quick like a knife finding it's home in the center of your heart. You will meet good people, yes, but you will also meet those with the cruelest of intentions. You'll never see it at first. Ever. You'll let them snake their way into your heart and mind, you will offer to give them the world and more. That's just who you are, or maybe, who you were.

So this is where I must ask this, and truly reflect on the events of my life: Who was the first and last person to add to the deterioration of the girl in the old photos? What was the first and last event to do so? Is there some chronological timeline somewhere that I'm missing out on, or is it really just one big blur of catastrophes?

It's hard to answer such questions. I can remember brief moments from my childhood that may have contributed. Small encounters with immature tween boys who were the first to make me feel anything less than beautiful. My fellow middle school peers who harassed me for being the quiet girl who liked to wear quirky outfits. The other girls in my class who didn't want to be around me, simply because I didn't grow up in the same area as them. Like I could help that. I had several things in common with them, but they will never know. Or maybe it was the high school administrators who laughed in my face at my goals and ambitions. Administrators.

I could go on and on about the people, places and things that have tried to knock me down a few pegs. The stepping stones who brought the smiling, happy figure to the reserved, hesitant girl and merged them. I must remember one thing: I am not the person who let that random boy call me a name. I am not the girl who let her "friend" violently yell at her and break her down in public. I am not the girl who let her "friend" make her feel bad for being there for her and expecting her to do the same. I am not the girl who let the wrong person in way more than once.

I am much stronger now. That's when I realized what actually happened. It wasn't a deterioration, it was a metamorphosis that occurred.

Yes, these events may have a negative connotation to them, but in all honesty, I don't regret a thing. Yes, the perfect stranger in the old photos may look like the more ideal option at times, but she isn't ready for the real world, at least she wasn't. She wasn't confident or mature, she was exactly what she looks like: a child. My experiences have shaped me and turned me into someone who is ready. Ready to take on whatever comes this way. Ready for reality.

I miss the girl that's further down my feed often. Sometimes, I daydream of the simpler times. Times where I could create beautiful life plans, times where I dreamt of this extravagant fantasy life, with some crazy-cool job and a husband I never fight with and a large home on a waterfront somewhere. This isn't true reality. Reality is a good friend of mine now. That's OK. We're starting to get along, finally. I understand it a lot better now.

Sometimes, I look through old pictures.

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