I think a lot of people go to Grad School because they don’t know what else to do, they’re unsure of what comes next. After graduating from college and living the dream for a while–just hanging out, working a couple part-time jobs, keeping up with the ol’ hobbies, etc.–they begin to wonder, “Now what?” They have interests, passions, curiosities, but maybe that’s not enough. Maybe they want something bigger for themselves.
I think most people want something bigger for themselves.
And there’s so much pressure to succeed in measurable and familiar ways. That’s why you end up with a whole flock of uncertain, indebted 20-somethings, “advancing their careers” with more schooling. I’ve seen it happen, like a fever spreading among my peers. They’re not sure exactly WHAT they want, but they need some sense of forward momentum, and society approves of higher education.
“What are you up to?” your parents’ friends ask, and you get to say “I just got accepted to Fancy Pants Academy in Ivy Town.”
And then everyone’s happy.
Except…except maybe they’re not. Maybe they don’t actually want to be a doctor or lawyer or mathematician. Maybe they just know that they’re ready for something more, something bigger than house parties and part-time jobs and poor finances. So they commit 2, 3, 4 more years of their lives in the hope that they will then be transformed, birthed like a grungy pheonix from the flames into full blown adult-hood.
Don’t get me wrong–I think Masters degrees and PhDs are fine, if you know what you want. If you are passionate about Physics, go for it. If you’ve always known that you want to be professor, or a doctor, or a lawyer, then study up and make it a reality.
But I think it’s wrong to pretend you’re something you’re not, to follow a set path and give up your individuality for the approval of others. Progress for the sake of progress, with no regard for who you are or what you want. I think there are many ways to “grow up,” move forward and be constantly changing for the better, and I would never push myself to blindly follow someone else’s definition of the next logical step, just because I was ashamed to admit that, honestly, at the age of 26, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.
I think I might like to be a school teacher, or possibly a journalist. I know I could succeed in either of those careers. But right now those are just notions, and there is plenty of time. I’m not certain of those choices, but I’m more and more certain of myself.
Recently I realized that most of my anxiety stemmed from trying to figure out the next step. What do I want? Where should I go? How can I best plan out the future in order to move on from the past?
It was freaking me out, Friends, trying to maintain a hectic, busy life here while also planning for a future that I could never quite convince myself of…so I stopped. I stopped planning. I stopped working so hard just to make a buck so that I could keep living a life where I’m working so hard all the damned time. I’m not going to move back to Spain, I’m not going to make any radical career changes, and I’m not going to Grad School.
Instead, I will:
-read more, watch TV less
-write more, facebook less
-run more, worry less
-listen more, talk less
-walk more, rush less
-sleep more, work less
-share more, isolate less
-hug more, stress less
-cry more, feel more, listen to my heart more, dream more, defy more, and spend less time obsessing over what my former classmates are doing, what my former friends think of me, and what my former goals were when I was a person who would ignore her gut instinct and stick to the plan, one foot after the other, even when it made me sick and anxious and depressed
In short, I will do as I please. I commit to me, to my ideals, my passions, my creativity and self-worth. They don’t give out degrees for that, but I feel a hell of a lot more certain of myself and what I want than so many of my peers that I see grinding the axe at a nine to five plus night school, just to get ahead. Even if all I’m sure of is taking things one day at a time and doing what feels right. Because what I’m sure of…is myself.
* * *
I think a lot of people go to Grad School because they’re unsure of what comes next. But I know exactly what I want. I want this, I want here, I want now. Spring is here, life is good, and every day I feel more and more alive. I’m not going to Grad School, because I’m committed to the present; I don’t want to change a thing
First a quick trip to South America, though. See you in 3 weeks and 3 days, Friends.