4 Life Questions You Don't Have To Answer By The Time You Graduate
You're rounding the bend and can see the light — it's almost time to graduate. Consequently, this means becoming a grown-ass person who must face grown-ass, challenging circumstances in the grown-ass, challenging world. There are big life questions to ask yourself right now, but it doesn't take a degree in rocket science to know that these questions can be terribly overwhelming. As the unspeakable pressure of your impending life journey closes in on you, there is one fact that can prevent you from losing your mind: You should be reflecting on these notions, but you don't necessarily need to have the answers to them just yet.
Even as an adult, I seem to go through a revelatory period every few years, in which I ask myself if I'm doing what I love, surrounding myself with people who inspire me and make me better, and whether I really do look good with my current hairstyle. The answers are bound to change, but what remains is that I've checked in with myself, and if I'm not satisfied with these things, I can make a plan to change them.
As the shadow of graduation looms darkly over your final days as a senior, this is the first of many moments of personal crisis you might encounter in your life. There are plenty of questions demanding your attention right now, but to take some of that pressure off, let's consider the ones that feel frightening and important, but that you really don't need to have an answer to. Not just yet, anyway.
1. What's my 10-year plan?
I might get crucified by some of my more prepared peers for saying this, but you really do not need to have your future all mapped out at the age of 17 or 18. Sure, if you do have a strategy, you're more likely not to be facing an existential crisis about where you'll be this time next year, but just because you aren't sure right now doesn't mean you're teetering on the brink of imminent failure. Conversely, your big plans might not even work out the way you're expecting. Most people I know are working in careers outside of their degree, and I've never met a person who hasn't run into one of life's famous curveballs at some point, so... you're good with a loose outline for your journey. There's no need to know every checkpoint along the way.
2. How do I start my career right now?
Soon, it will be helpful, but right now you can revel in the leisure of figuring out what you want to study for the next few years and not knowing what the entirety of your career is going to comprise. So cliche, but life — career path included — really is all about the journey. Anna Holmes, founder of Jezebel, said something in an interview with Lifehacker that I haven't been able to get out of my head, and I think it's totally relevant here. When asked about the best advice she's ever gotten, Holmes replied, "Nobody knows anything." How freeing is that? It means no one knows, ultimately, what the empirically correct thing to do is. We're all just little fish swimming through the ocean of life, making the best decisions we can on a moment-to-moment basis, hoping those decisions are "right" in that they keep us safe from all of the possible dangers lurking in the reef. So, the next time you're told you need to know what you're going to do to be financially stable, just remember, whoever is asking you is trying to keep you safe, but they don't know what the right answer is to that question any more than you do.
3. What is my personal style?
Sound frivolous? Tell that to the girl who would agonize over finding the perfect outfit — you know, the one that would tell everyone you know how to artfully style a blazer but you didn't spend too much time doing it and that you're smart and have great taste in, oh, everything — or who woke up an hour early just to conceal her hereditary undereye circles. If you're freaked out about which social spheres you're going to be "accepted" into at college, it's important you know that personal style just comes to you over time. You start to stop caring about those circles (they're rocker chic anyway) and just start doing you. Growing up is the best. Embrace it. Don't sweat your "look" — you'll find it.
4. When do I start a family? Do I even want one?
I have to speak purely from personal experience on this one. I always thought I wanted the typical nuclear family — one boy, one girl, because that was everything I had as a kid. I got to my early 20s and started wondering if I even wanted kids. They require a lot of clean up, steal your sleep, and how would I ever find time to indulge my brunching habits? Now, as 30 quickly approaches, there's not doubt — give me babies and all that comes with it. The point being, your feelings about the type of relationships you're open to, the number of children you want, or whether you even need offspring to be happy, are allowed to fluctuate as your life changes. At 18, I thought if I didn't have a boyfriend I was two years off from being a cat lady. I might be single, but I know that's never happening — I hate cats.
Life is full of pressure, and if you allow yourself to succumb to it all, you'll freeze and lose your mind. Don't do that. Take each challenge in stride and wrap your arms fully around the unknown. In certain instances, you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain from being unable to solve those seemingly unanswerable conundrums.