We are all on a precipice of sorts; on the verge of taking a plunge into a new job/ course/ trip… a leap of faith in to an abrupt descent, diving in headfirst.
You may be someone who, like me, has just finished your final piece of university work or your last exam, and are now diving head first into the world of applications, interviews, career-talk, and graduate anxiety or depression. All through uni we are motivated to continue piling up debt, enduring sleepless nights and countless panic attacks on the distant promise of being highly employable, and getting our feet in the large thick door of our ‘dream’ careers.
But what is a career? And who’s dream is it exactly? The most commonly known definition of a career is a noun: “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person’s life and with opportunities for progress”.
This is the definition we associate most with a career, taking the socially constructed responsibility, as an adult, to pursue one significant job role. In some cases we can achieve this with little educational experience, but with many we require to have gone all the way through schooling to really get prepared for a life long career, where we can become more renowned, earn more money, and live more comfortably; until we eventually die and receive the same size hole in the ground. Then we take a journey up to the pearly gates and beat on the door demanding entry, only to realise everyone is equal up there, and our careers get us no favourable treatment in the afterlife.
I would be lying if I told you I have never been sucked in by the propaganda and immense urgency that is placed on young adults finding a career and dedicating their whole lives to one profession. It even appeals to me from time to time when I get anxious, and the impending doom of what my life might end up being if I don’t get a graduate job or pursue a master’s degree bares its full wrath upon me.
It is difficult to block out all of the information we have been fed since being youngsters, that the only way we can succeed in life is by going to school, going to university, doing a graduate degree, and eventually becoming a wealthy professional. It is getting easier for me as I am re-connecting with hobbies and activities which I enjoy outside of academic settings. But this impending sense of failure and letting everyone down is always there, on my shoulder like an annoying little shit preventing me from being completely satisfied.
For some, everything is straightforward. Maybe you were born to be an academic, or you have never gone through school with these worries that you might be investing into a career that you are now unsure you ever wanted. If you are this type of person, I am so happy that you are happy. But I am not like this, you see.
Now may be a good time to mention that I have found a second definition for the term ‘career’:
1. move swiftly and in an uncontrolled way.
This definition is something I think I could f*** with… If you’re like me- and I know there’s some of you out there- thinking of a career like this makes everything seem a little less stressful, doesn’t it? In fact, I think I’d thoroughly enjoy careering off the precipice and diving head first into all those things that I love. And I think you should too.
If you’ve spent too long avoiding the thing you love, like the creative subjects that do not get enough credit, the travelling, the jobs that go against what you’ve spent the last three years of your degree studying, I have some advice for you: Get up and do it!
Your life should always be yours, and you owe it to yourself to wake up every morning feeling happy about the way it is going. Don’t settle for what you think others will approve of. I know the cliche’d saying of ‘never settle for anything less than extraordinary’ gets a bad wrap, and people who want to live by this saying tend to get shut down by the so-called realists (or pessimists in my opinion), but why the f*** should we settle for anything less than extraordinary? why should our goals and aspirations be mediated by societal perceptions and maintaining the status quo? Do what you want and be happy!
Congratulations to you and all my fellow graduates out there, stumbling into life outside uni like Bambi on ice. I hope you have a gorgeous summer, and end up doing something with your life that is true to yourself and your happiness.
A fellow graduate