I graduated from college about a year ago and came to the startling realization that I had no clear idea of what to do for the rest of my life. Right up until pretty much the last minute of college, I thought I’d go on to pursue a PhD in archaeology. It was the well rehearsed answer I had ready any time I encountered the So what in the world do you plan to do with an anthropology degree? question – and I meant it. Every time I tried to get really serious about it, though, I freaked out.
Did I know what I wanted my concentration to be? Not really. Did I have any ideas for a project proposal? Nope. Did I really think I could convince anybody to fund my school and the work I’d be doing? Absolutely not. Was I sure I’d be able to maintain interest in one project for the better part of a decade? Doubtful. Did I even think I’d get out with an impressive enough CV to actually get hired when everything was said and done? I really didn’t know.
It’s not that I felt insecure about my abilities as a student—I’ve always loved school and made it out of college with some pretty amazing stuff under my belt. I just wasn’t completely sure whether I was still planning on grad school because I really wanted to or just because I’d already told everyone that that was the plan.
After graduation, I knew I had a lot of thinking to do (and not much else) so I quickly moved back into my parent’s house. I spent my time reading and half-assing a job search for a month or so. I soon found out a room would be opening up in my friends’ apartment in Chicago and knew I needed a job ASAP. I kicked that job search into high gear.
I had no idea how arduous it would be to find a full-time position that I was both qualified to do and didn’t seem completely awful. I wasn’t looking for a dream job by any means, but I wanted to find something that could get me by and keep me sane while I figured everything out.
After about month and a half of interviewing, I received an offer for a temp-to-hire job working as an administrative assistant in the city and scooped it up as quickly as I could. I’m still doing that same job and I can’t say it’s my true calling or anything, but it’s allowing me to live with some of my best friends and provides me with enough time and money to read and write and exist pretty damn comfortably.
I don’t know what I’ll be doing a year from now (hopefully not the exact same thing), but it’s weirdly freeing to feel like everything is up in the air. All of the options I can see from here look beautiful, and the best part is that there are no real time constraints. I could end up actually applying to grad school, working for a non-profit, or even finding a way to make this writing thing a full time gig.
When people ask about my plans and I tell them I’m clueless, I can see concern flooding their faces. For the first time, though, I’m really not worried. I actually believe that things will work out as long as I keep doing what I’m doing. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt like I’ve had things under control, even if the details are still fuzzy.
I have the power to decide what to do next and the stability to sit for a while and regroup. It’s okay that I’m not totally where I want to be yet because I’ve got the time, the means, and enough support from friends and family to work through whatever comes my way. I am a really lucky girl.