Posted in Opinions

On the anxieties of a soon-to-be graduate

In the real world, I have no idea what I want or how to find it

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Image Credits: Nancy Chen

The end of university for me is nigh, and it feels like an impending disaster. For some reason, I assumed I would feel ready and excited for the future. Instead, my days have been filled with anxiety.

Will I find a decent job in my field? Will I find any decent job? What skills do I have? Am I qualified for anything? Have I just wasted the last four years of my life learning nothing?

Go to a good university and get a good job. That is the narrative I have always been fed. But as I look at job applications for the positions I’m interested in, all I see are qualifications that I don’t have. As my graduation date edges closer, my stress and fear increase.

Nobody wants to be that college graduate who couldn’t handle the ‘real world.’ Maybe I am an anomaly. Maybe I did not handle business the way I should have. Whenever I speak to other students like myself, the conversations highlight my anxiety and uncertainty. The underlying fear for me has consistently led to one question: “What if I’m not good enough?”

University is a security blanket. I know the classes I need and how to pass them. I am hitting something that society considers a major milestone. I am in an environment that nurtures my thoughts and ideas. I am the focus of a system. Once I leave that security blanket behind, I will no longer be nurtured. I will have to fight for my voice and my ideas to be heard. I will have to start from the bottom again.

So, if this is the true beginning of life — having to start a career from scratch — what happens when you do not know exactly what you want? You may have a vague idea of what you want your career to be. You may be overwhelmed by the many things you are interested in trying and the limited time you have to try them.

Personally, the former is the root of my anxiety. The reality is making itself clear: vague dreams do not help you. I am at a point where if I dream about doing something or working somewhere, I have to make a plan that is practical and reliable. I envy people who are sure of what they want and how to get it.

More than ever, I will have to face the kind of human being I really am. Will I take this fear and work hard to be a useful member of society? Will I fall into despair and let the uncertainty and anxiety rule my ability to dream? The truth I find may not be what I want to see, but this is all part of being an adult, I guess. It sucks.

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