The Big Bad Future
The future. It’s those two little words that can strike terror into the heart of any young, optimistic 20-something. Some lucky few manage to get through their lives already knowing where they’re headed, and cruise through high school and university only to land the perfect job where they can wile away their lives on a nice salary package.
Then there are the rest of us, plodding along doing degrees that sounded vaguely interesting (no one knew in high school that they were going to be mocked for the next three years because they chose to study Arts) and with no idea what we want to do with the rest of our lives.
As a soon-to-be graduate, I have spent many a sleepless night pondering over my future. Where am I going to be in 10 years? Where do I want to be in 10 years? Will I be stuck in retail for the rest of my life? (Anyone who has endured any length of time working in customer service can’t tell me that same dreaded thought has never crossed their mind.) It feels like I am going to graduate with qualifications, but with no real idea of what the working world is like or what people actually do all day from 9-5.
After almost three years of university, it’s hard to avoid the inevitable questions from well-meaning friends and family about what I am going to do for a career. Where will I be when I leave the cosy library couches and the last-minute essay writing for the Great Beyond? It’s a question I ask myself every single day as well, and yet the answer still eludes me, despite the frantic Google searches and stalking of my university’s careers website. It has gotten to the point where I freeze up when someone asks me what my plans are. Out comes a muttered response: ‘Oh… I don’t know… maybe something to do with media… marketing… journalism… publishing, maybe?’
It is as if not knowing what you want to do post-university (or post-high school, or at all) makes you a lesser person somehow. Being someone with no direction and no plans makes you just another young person wasting space, even if you do have ideas and dreams and just don’t know how to implement them. This is me. I have sought the advice of everyone from my Twitter followers to my lecturers, and no one seems to have the perfect solution. Then there is also the lingering thought in the back of my mind that I won’t find work. I may very well have to face the dire situation of moving back in with my parents and fruitlessly job-searching for months on end, and no one wants that.
I realise, though, through my constant contemplation of the topic, that no one else is going to do this for me. To get a job I have to look for one, and to get a job I actually like means I have to figure it out for myself, whether that means striking gold on my first try or jumping around from career to career for the rest of my life. It is a little bit scary, but something that everyone has to face at one point or another. The future will come, whether we are ready for it or not. Sitting in bed and moping over it for the third time this week is not going to change anything.
One of my favourite quotes is by Baz Lurhmann: ‘Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life… the most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t.’ Not having any plans for the future is not necessarily a bad thing—perhaps we need to look at it as an opportunity instead.
As young people, the world is at our feet, and we are lucky enough to have the education and motivation to do whatever we feel like doing. I think maybe it’s time to stop worrying and start living instead.
By Jennifer Brown