“So what are your plans after graduation?” What a loaded question. Most students dread this, but I was equipped, ready, and excited to answer with “I’m going to the UK to earn a master’s degree in International Management.” I had fulfilled my duties as an undergraduate, stayed involved, and interned full time before my international departure from Southern California to the University of Exeter, England! I was so excited for this opportunity as I know it was a privilege and would be an experience of a lifetime.
Graduation is a very transitional time of life, no matter if you are continuing with your education or not. It’s a mere moment to reflect on the past, what you’ve learned, how you’ve grown, what you like, what you don’t like – but, at the same time, you must also somehow consider what’s ahead: the future. How do you do both? I don’t know if there’s a simple answer but being cautious, aware, reflective, and open-minded about what you have discovered about yourself and what you will continue to discover. Be flexible, be ready. This is when you embrace what you’ve “got”, capitalize the strengths you can identity, and launch.
I embarked on my post-graduate journey 6-months following college graduation knowing just 1 more degree and 1 more graduation “phase” was in front of me. Frankly, there were times I felt exhausted from already “grinding out” 4 years in undergrad but I held onto the “high” of the first graduation right through to the second (and most probably, last). I approached the entirety of my UK adventure with high-energy and a clear goal in mind, to graduate. Now, at this stage, when someone asked what my plans were after graduation, I empathized with the “uh, please don’t” crowd.
However, the fulfillment of achieving my dream of earning a master’s degree lead me to feel confident that I would figure it out, someway, somehow. I utilized the resources, tools, and networks I was a part of, using the knowledge I gained to propel my next steps.
A lot of graduates feel the pressure to have a plan, a clear goal, a job title, a specific idea in mind in order to feel “successful.” And I was one of those people. I have learned that there is no benefit here to look 10 steps ahead or compare yourself to another. Let’s be honest – do we all TRULY know what we’re going to do or who we are going to be forever? Perhaps not, SO, this simply means that we, in fact, do NOT know it all, so why pretend? That’s setting ourselves up for failure and only fooling ourselves. There is so much anxiety tied with academics, jobs, decisions, future – life, so we should cling onto our brave decision to pursue our degrees which is entirely success in itself.
Therefore, if society, family, or peer pressure is truly is on being successful, well then, we have already succeeded. Enjoy the moment – life is ahead, full of more seasons, aspirations, mistakes, learning curves, and that is when we take control to navigate the future to our best ability. Even if you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s safe to say that most of us don’t either. Define your success and blossom.
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