who let me graduate?

If you work to play, that is okay. If you love your work and play less, that is also okay.

After graduation, I went through what I like to call my quarter life crisis. How does one transition from the fun, borderline alcoholic college lifestyle to that of the 9-to-5 working life? This is a question I struggled with after graduating last winter. Navigating the professional world after a lifetime of schooling seemed like a taunting task for me. How did I deal with it? I decided to work at fishing lodge on a remote island in Chile. I would like to say that I spent this time reflecting on my life and deciding what I wanted my future to look like, but in reality, I returned just as lost as when I left. I struggled to find the balance between wanting to travel the world and wanting to kick start a professional career. Did I want to live the laid-back wanderlust lifestyle or did I want to make myself competitive for graduate school? Looking around half of my friends were traveling the world and the other half were jumping into professional careers. Both were valid options, so I decided to postpone adulting a little longer and travel around Europe.

Did I come back from traveling with an idea of what I wanted to do next? Hell no. I returned and wanted to hop right back onto the plane to delay decision making a little longer. This time, though, I decided to stick around and look into jobs that would give me medical experience. On a whim, I decided to apply to work at Planned Parenthood and to my surprise, I got the job! Then the panic set in. Was I ready for the 9-to-5 life with 2 weeks of vacation a year, living in a city where I didn’t know many people? Was I ready to be an adult? Who knows? But I took the job and am loving what I am doing. I am empowering people to make educated decisions about their sexual health and that is pretty dang awesome. Was it the correct decision for me? Maybe, maybe not. Do I miss traveling? Yes. Do I feel good about what I do for work? Also, yes.

The point I’m trying to make is that graduating is hard. Our entire lives we are told to do what makes us happy and what we are passionate about, and that’s a ton of pressure. We graduate and are expected to jump into the workforce and use the degrees that we spent years and thousands of dollars getting. But we also have the idea in our heads that we should love our career and feel passionate about it. That is a realistic expectation for some, but not for others. So, if you work to play, that is okay. If you love your work and play less, that is also okay. What I’m saying is try to take some pressure off yourself. No one knows what they are doing and we are all faking it until we make it. Just make a decision and go with it. It doesn’t have to be the correct decision because life isn’t black and white like that, but just make a decision and go for it. Support yourself as you’d support a friend. JUST MAKE THE DECISION AND GO WITH IT. And if you hate it, you can always make a new one. 

Author:Nina Paris