In years’ past, a high school diploma was all that one needed to ensure they were qualified for work that would sustain them for years to come. Maybe it didn’t qualify a person for a lucrative career in a field with job mobility, but it paid the bills. Then it was the bachelor’s degree. Now, in many fields, a master’s degree is needed for even some entry-level positions.
No wonder so many college students face depression.
Some students, such as future nurses or accounting majors, are entering fields where their undergraduate work will be enough to count them as employable. Others, such as those studying Bible and religion or English, are often left looking behind at the dust of a college career that didn’t—or couldn’t—get them in the door.
The choices for those students often involve finding work outside of their field or continuing on to graduate school in order to be considered employable. Maybe they knew that when they entered school, and maybe they’re excited about the next steps. Maybe they’re ready. But maybe nothing could have prepared them for the implications of acquiring a degree in an unhirable field.
What happens to the students who weren’t expecting how seriously difficult post-grad life would be? And who is there for them, cheering them on and reminding them that it is okay to be 21- or 22-and-lost? Nurses, accountants, Bible scholars and English lovers alike (and everyone else, too), hear this: it is okay to graduate and have absolutely no idea what comes next.
It is even okay for “next” to become “now” and for “future” to become “today” without knowing what you will do. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other, show up and offer the world the best of yourself.
Sometimes post-grad life looks like a job at Panera Bread while you figure out where you want to go to graduate school or even what you want to study. Sometimes it looks like spending a semester exploring Disney World as part of the Disney College Program, or maybe it’s moving across the country to start a dream job or continue your education. Maybe the next year of your life is already planned and set in motion. The point of it all is that, yes, what comes after college is important—but it is by no means the culmination of your life.
The next year is important. But so is the next one and the next one after that. Your decisions, words and actions matter right now, but that does not mean that every choice you make has to be a grand gesture or step into the future. Be faithful to yourself and your Creator by not trying to be everything before you’re meant to. Be faithful by pursuing the very next thing, and in that, you will soon discover that the next thing leads to the next thing and the next thing after that. You don’t have to get to the top of the ladder in one step.