Unsure of life after graduation
Hi so I'm new to this forum but a couple of days ago I was thinking of posting to an online forum in regards to the uncertainty of my future.
To give some background context, I am very close to graduating from my degree. I only have one semester left and that will be the end of that. Now the problem is not necessarily that I will be graduating it is more along the lines of the fact that I have been made this my goal ever since I was a child. Getting a degree was always my number one priority, and I have to say I did neglect other aspects of my life. For instance, I have compromised friendships and relationships because they were not helping me in the pursuit of my goal. And that can be seen as a very selfish thing, but I think that my success is and always will be my number one priority. Putting it in words seems absurd because it seems like I am very goal-orientated and driven, but I really am not.
So I think my main problem is that I have not put too much thought in what I want to do after I graduate. I have not made any short term or long term goals in relation to my life post-graduation. I have dreams and ideas of where I would like my life to go, but none of it is a concrete plan.
I suppose I am struggling to come to terms with graduating. I have only ever focused on this particular aspect of my life. A few months ago I started anti-depressants again because I was having panic attacks which interfered with my attendance of classes, and also my ability to even leave my house. I have gotten my anxiety under control, mostly because I was so afraid that my panic attacks would not allow me to complete my degree in the time frame that I wanted to. That probably gave me more anxiety on top of the anxiety I already had.
Anyway, the panic attacks I experienced were in relation to my fear of failure. And what am I failing? My own ideals of myself.
I suppose what I am really looking for is some sort of comfort in knowing that my life after graduation will not change drastically. That even if I complete my ultimate goal of graduating, that there will be something else that I will want to work towards. I just have not found that thing yet. There's many things I would like to do, but none of it is possible as soon as I graduate. For instance, I plan to travel at some point, but I would have to save money, and in order to do that I will have to obtain employment. With my degree, I will not be able to get a job, because I am required to do a masters in my field. But I have already decided to take at least two years off before I commit to another block of study. Mostly because I have not experienced life, just read about it in textbooks for the past 3 years.
I guess I am just in a limbo between completing one goal and not having another one to pursue after it is finished.
There's so many things I want to do, but it all seems so out of reach for me at the moment. I am not satisfied with being stagnant, or rather not having any progress in my life. I don't really know how to deal with these feelings of inadequacy when I am not working towards something that will benefit me either short or long term.
And also to add on, I am unsure if I really want to pursue the masters in my field of study to obtain employment. I am not even sure that I want to work in the field that I have chosen. So I also feel like I have wasted 3 years of my life to be back at square one. Sure, I completed the goal of getting a degree in something I wanted, but now I am not sure if I want it. Having experienced first hand the type of work I would have to do, it just doesn't feel right. I suppose that also makes me feel disappointed. The fact that I made the decision and also the fact that the ideas that I had about it were not the reality.
I just also don't want to disappoint my family or my friends. I have always spoken about my plans, but now they are changing. So I suppose what people will think of me when I do something differently effects my decisions in life.
I have always been a firm believer that you should do what makes you happy. While my degree does make me happy and I enjoy learning and studying, the external factors such as being financially stable have really got to me lately. I have never put much thought into it, but as I get older I realise that I will have to become financially stable to support myself and the kind of life I want to have. But then at the same time I convince myself that I don't have to have this stability if it isn't something I strive for. Because it hasn't been for my entire life. I suppose I have been able to support myself with minimum amount of income while studying, so I do not see why it is impossible to do so after I graduate.
I don't know. I just have a lot on my mind and I guess I am just fearful of the future and the changes that will or will not happen.
Your story really got my attention mostly because I'm sort of going through the same thing. I recently graduated in May and I am currently dealing with feelings of inadequacy and disappointment. I, like you, loved school and worked very hard to complete my degree. I also require a graduate degree to do anything in my designated field and recently got rejected from several graduate programs I applied to due to a "lack of experience". I've shadowed and experienced the work that I would like to do but it also didn't feel quite right. Also the fact that I even need a graduate degree to do it made me feel jaded by the education system because of the bullshit loops you have to jump through to get to the end goal.
After being rejected from the grad programs I decided I should travel because I felt the exact way you do about only reading about having a life and not actually being able to have one. I ended up going through a program and am now in my third month of living in Spain and teaching English to high schoolers here. It sounds incredible and exciting but its been really tough here especially because I don't speak any Spanish and have no experience teaching. Not that any of this really matters to you. Really I just want to say that post-grad does suck. Which isn't very helpful information because you most likely already are anticipating that. Going from having such a set routine and doing what you feel like you are supposed to be doing to having no real schedule is scary as hell.
But it's not all bad and I think everyone feels like we do. Its not something you should be anxious about or losing your mind over because really, its not a big deal. Life goes on and it works itself out in the end. If it hasn't worked itself out then its not the end. Also don't worry about what your friends think. Most likely they're doing exactly what you're doing and comparing themselves to you as well wondering where they went wrong.
I'm slowly learning that life is always going to feel a little uncomfortable and unorganized and it's just something you deal with. I;m not sure anyone knows what thy're doing at any given point in time. I think most people just float through life and end up getting caught on something or someone and sticking to it. I think its awesome that you have the foresight to think about all this and also the determination to finish your degree and think about the future. It seems to me that so far you're doing a pretty rad job. Anxiety, while sometimes crippling, also creates progress.
And that's really all I have to say.... I'm sorry if this has been incredibly unhelpful or made you even more anxious. I'm not great at pep talks but I guess I just wanted you to know that you have a friend in this weird transitory phase of life.