May 13th 2018 is a day I will never forget.
On one hand, it was the culmination of all of my previous schooling. It was the moment my parents had been waiting for the second they stepped foot in America in 1998. It was THE day! My dad’s boss came, my family friends, my best friend…people who believed in my dreams since they met me came to celebrate this day. And yet, when I walked into the stadium along with 3000 other graduates in Carolina Blue, I felt the beginning of what adults tell me is an “existential crisis.”
Not only was I graduating college with absolutely no idea of what to expect career-wise, I was unprepared for the harsh reality of adulthood. I had accepted a job in January doing something I was passionate about, but the echoes of my parent’s past arguments over bills freaked me out about not setting myself up for a lucrative career path, like finance. (can you feel my eyes rolling?). So after spending most of May doubting myself and my choices, I quit that job before I could even start it. (Lesson #1: Don’t make hasty decisions based on fear).
Suddenly, I entered a very uncomfortable space where I questioned everything I knew about myself and what I wanted. Did I still want to go to law school? Did I want to pursue a Masters first? Should I take time off to work? Should I switch paths and go for an MBA? Should I do an ABSN? I pretty much considered every option I could take to set myself up for some security because for the first time in my life, I had none. The future was vague, my days lacked a routine, and there was no structure dictating what the next three years of my life will look like. When I realized that none of those random options made sense, I thought deeply about my passions & goals. Yup, still wanted to go to law school! Great! So…now gotta study for the LSAT!
But when I cracked open that book.. listen y’all, here’s the thing about graduating from one of the best universities in the world… we are not used to failure. Every day I looked at the questions and doubted myself. What if I don’t do well? What if I never get in? And then I spoke with some alumni and one who is actually going to law school this upcoming fall told me this:
You’ve got to FIGHT for yourself.
I constantly worried about my ability to push through, to fight for my dreams, to make time to work towards my goals, but if I don’t believe in myself, who will?
It dawned on me that it is not as simple as knowing what you want if you are too afraid to take the steps to get there. It also dawned on me that due to fear, I made terrible choices since my graduation when I could have simply been happy with the job that I had (that I truly, truly wanted in the first place) and taken the extra summer time to study for the LSAT, travel, and live my best life.
I wish I could tell you that post-grad life is as glamorous as graduation day itself but I wish someone had been honest with me so I could mentally prepare for this transition. It is not like the movies where the protagonist has a cushy job as a journalist in NYC, or the male lead is a corporate hotshot. Maybe for some people it is and they’re very lucky, but who knows? In five years, they may hate their jobs and quit. Some people may go back to school for an entirely different career path. If you’re like me, you may wake up every day questioning everything but here’s the thing: if you’re not asking questions, then you don’t care enough to find the answer. Complacency is the most dangerous thorn on the stem of success.
Stephen Hawking said “one has to be grown up enough to realize that life is not fair.”