It is becoming more apparent lately that there is an intense societal pressure to define yourself and be able to summarize who you are by what you do. I am currently in my final year of my university degree and at that metaphoric crossroads, standing swiveling my head about desperately trying to choose a direction to move in. There is this overwhelming urgency about the whole thing, a pressure to decide right now, know where your life is headed and settle into the next stage of your life.
I feel a little lost in this whole process as I never have and still don’t feel like I know or most of the time want to know where I am headed. I do comprehend that this may sound irresponsible and juvenile but I ask you, What is the rush? I am not saying I am making no decisions, I am. I am sending applications, researching job opportunities, postgraduate courses, all the sensible things but I am also looking at volunteer work, teaching English in a foreign country for a year and other less conventional post university options. They may be less typical or expected but I seriously do not feel they are any less valid options.
I currently have a strong sense of who I am, what I am capable of, where my interests lie and what I think I would be good at professionally. Knowing all this is fine, it is the applying it to reality I am struggling with. There are so many complications right now with post university life it is a daunting thing. Not only will it be a complete adjustment come September when for the first time in 18 years I will not be attending an educational institution, most likely. I feel a very real sense of unease about this, not anxiety really but more a little unsteady in my footing. When you think about it being in the education system meant for 18 years every September you had somewhere to be, something definite to do. Each year was a new start and beginning but it was also a surety, you knew even if it was subconsciously that you had something certain in your life to work at, a purpose.
Leaving education you lose this security and don’t get me wrong I am excited and feel capable of making this transition but I can’t help but feel for the moment, lost. I don’t know what September will hold for me this year, I can’t even say for certain what country I will be living in. All I know is I NEED to do something I feel excited about, something I feel motivated by and drawn to. I am not the person to take a position out of a need for security. I may feel lost and wonder what is in store but at heart I am a romantic gambler. I want adventure and challenge in my life. I want to do something with meaning and purpose not accept a position, course or job simply because ‘these are difficult times’.
Maybe I am reckless and unrealistic but I choose not to define myself by a profession, I will define myself by my actions towards and for others. Most importantly and probably incredibly irresponsibly of me I will follow what I feel and trust myself. Right now I don’t know and have no way of knowing what is ahead, all I can do is live in this time and be open to the present, to the situations, opportunities and unpredictability of everyday.
Some days I feel so overwhelmed by course work, reading material, projects and applications that I genuinely feel utterly discouraged and conflicted about what is happening to me. It is that feeling, that question that has brought me to this little ramble. What is happening in my life is not happening TO me, life is of course moving around me, I am part of something out of my control yet I am conscious, I am capable of making decisions and shaping situations. I need to remind myself that all the pressure I feel, the weight of these past few months and impending months is really a blessing. I am so fortunate to be experiencing university, to be getting the education I am and although it might seem scary to look at the abyss of possibilities ahead of me, how fortunate am I to have them at all.
This is me now refocusing, relinquishing expectations and accepting that my decisions are my own. They may not always be met by understanding or encouragement, they may be but realistically I tend to end up doing the unexpected. None the less, I will find my path, set out on my journey and I am sure now that there is somewhere I am supposed to go, there is something I am supposed to do. I will make a decision, I will be given a title to accompany what ever it is I end up doing but the important element of this whole thing to me is no matter what I decide I always have the option to change my mind. Once a decision is made it is not set in stone, sometimes we make mistakes or situations just aren’t right. Life is all about finding yourself and in order to do so you have to explore. You have to try and fail and then try something else. Being rational and realistic has its merits but so also does heart and intuition and courage. Taking chances is as critical to happiness as is finding security. Without risk I don’t believe you can ever honestly find your true place and eventually your home on this earth.
I will try and take all this on board. To begin I need to keep positive and start each day in the right mind set. I need to think big picture, not long term but broadly. There is so much out there for each of us, one choice does not a one way path make. The corridor I will be traveling down has many doors indeed leading off it, each one waiting to be opened.