As I reflect upon the college career that I am so soon leaving behind (which is still so weird and surreal to fully comprehend), I think of all the expectations I went into this phase of life with. I had hoped to make the most of every moment, calling college some of the “best years of my life” like you always expect from cliche media portrayals.
But college turned out much differently than I had expected. Like Big Brother, expect the unexpected, right? In this self-reflection and word of advice, I’m going to share how I proved myself wrong with what college taught me, specifically the career path I’m pursuing and my unique way of getting there.
Choosing a major…but not loving it.
If you’re starting out early enough in your college career, by all means explore the options out there. At a certain point, once you’re far enough into a major, chances are you won’t be thinking about trying something new. From there, you’re likely to feel one of two things: passionate and driven in your chosen field knowing you’re in the right career path, or kind of stuck and slightly discouraged because you’re just wanting to earn a degree and be done.
As you can probably guess, I fall in the latter category. I’m graduating with a degree in journalism, and after learning extensively about the field and experiencing it firsthand, I know it’s definitely not for me. Not only have I been subject to the cutthroat politics of the newsroom, but I also cannot for the life of me write high-quality journalism, print or broadcast. It’s a program at my university that really stresses experience and internships, so I often times felt pushed in certain directions, only to end up bitter and fallen flat on my face in defeat. Yeah, not the ideal career path for me.
Depending on your goals, you might think if I’m not entirely happy where I’m at, I should transfer, change, and do whatever I can to pursue my dreams. I tend to agree, but just because you feel stuck now doesn’t mean you’ll always be stuck. Your path doesn’t end when you earn a degree; the world is your oyster from there, and just because that diploma lists a field of study doesn’t mean you cannot pursue whatever you desire. What’s most important in college is finishing. It’s a lot of build-up just to have your name written on a piece of paper, but that’s something to be very proud of.
So if you’re feeling like classes are dragging by and it’s too late to change, you can still make the most of it. For me, I appreciate learning how to effectively use media, especially social media as I’m pursuing the world of blogging. I also am grateful to study journalism so I know that it’s something that I don’t want to do with my life. I can cross it off the list and go onto what really speaks to me. Learn all you can, be grateful for the opportunity to continue your education, and keep trudging forward.
Don’t hate where you’re at in this present moment because for some reason you likely don’t understand right now, you’re meant to be here. It’s teaching you something. You’re growing toward the person you’ll become. You’re meeting others who will stay in your life for years to come. You’re gaining the insight necessary before whatever is next. Trust the crazy process that is life. It’ll all work out as it should.
Forging your own path…and having everyone confused.
College for me has been a whirlwind. Not only am I graduating with two majors and a minor, but I’m also completing all of this in three years. That alone leaves people taken aback, especially since it’s more likely to take longer than four years to finish a degree over speeding up the process. People have even asked me, “Did you not like college?” thinking that I want to leave it all ASAP rather than taking my time and “living it up.”
No, I didn’t hate college. Do I think I hyped it up for myself only to hit in the face with reality? You bet. I’m already a type-A personality that likes to get things done as efficiently as possible, always looking forward to what lies ahead, so I’ve spent countless time beating myself up for not doing more in these three years. I could have gotten more involved on campus, the limited experiences I did have not serving much for me. I could have ramped up my social life by going out to parties and bars.
Lots of those regretful thoughts come bubbling up to the surface, but just because I didn’t fulfill all those college hopes and dreams doesn’t mean I’ll never have any other opportunities in my life. These short three years are only the threshold of all the experiences I’m likely to live through. Even though, like high school, what is but a blink of an eye has felt like the longest three years, there is so much life outside of a college campus.
In that life awaiting me, as you can guess, I’m not pursuing hard news or journalism. Instead, I want to travel. I want to help others. I want to explore my faith. I want to create and inspire and write until my fingers are sore. Many people think my goals are out-of-touch with reality, a reality that is working yourself up a corporate ladder in a traditional career field and falling in the footsteps of so many others.
For many, that’s what speaks to them, and there’s nothing wrong with those ambitions. I just know that’s not for me. It’s discouraging when you hear feedback from those you admire and look up to, only for them to be confused by where your passion lies. You’re likely to second-guess everything, think of yourself as inadequate or lagging behind somehow.
Before you dive too deep into self-loathing, ask yourself: are these people living my life? Do they hear every voice in my head pulling me down a unique path? Should they be the ones dictating my happiness and fulfillment? No, to all of those. Trust yourself. Trust God, the universe, or whatever you believe in. When you know where you’re called to, it doesn’t matter what others think, how they might rank on you on some man-made measurement of “success.”
Things will work out for you as they should. Don’t pursue a career path for money, for fame, for a title on your resume. What is meant for you will work out. All those superficial details won’t sustain you, but your passion and determination will. So who cares what those who don’t completely understand you think? They’re only analyzing your situation from what they know and recognize, and doing something different is a tad scary. Basically, you do you. Do what you love. It’ll all work out.
Wherever you might be in college and life, my biggest piece of advice for you is trust. Trust what doesn’t work out and what does. Trust your gut. Trust God that He’s taking care of you. By all means, continue your education and earn that degree because no matter how you got there, that is a major accomplishment to celebrate. But remember, that’s not the end of your story. You’re still writing it. Trust the path you’re on, all its twists and unexpected turns; no matter what, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be.
Have you felt pressures, in college or not, to pursue a certain career path? How did you learn to listen intuitively to your true passions?
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie