The dreaded question

Mar 19th, 2014 | By | Category: Opinions

By Emily Dougan

The number one question I, and probably most graduating seniors, are tired of hearing is, “What are you doing after college?”

I am actually to the point where if one other person asks me, I might punch them, or myself, in the face. But what is even worse than the question itself is the look you get no matter how you answer it.

Here’s the thing: There is no good way to answer that question.

It doesn’t matter if you have a job set up in your dream field with health benefits and a condo. Someone is going to judge you for it.

I’ve heard plans ranging from graduate school, to working at a major business firm, to resigning oneself to become a potentially homeless burrito stall owner, and not one of these plans gets 100 percent approval.

If you are deciding to go to graduate school, you are deemed as not knowing what to do with your life and seem like you are just putting off the decision for a few years by possibly paying another hefty tuition bill.

If you start a career, you’re giving up your youth and settling for a lackluster life. If you don’t have a plan at all … well, then there is something seriously wrong with you.

I’ve gotten to the point that when asked what I’m going to do with my life by strangers at the supermarket, I lie.
I tell them I’m going to go work for some non-profit and get some “real world experience.”

This has come after telling people that my intention to go to graduate school in Europe (it’s a lot cheaper and those Europeans know some things about environmental management) has been met with comments about my pretention and privilege.

But you know what? That is messed up.

It’s messed up that I feel bad about discussing what the future holds for me. I should be damn proud; I worked hard to get into the school I wanted and know it’s what I want to do.

The same goes for many of my other fellow soon-to-be graduated seniors.

We don’t need to be held accountable to anyone else in choosing what we do with our degrees. We’re adults; we can make decisions for ourselves now. We shouldn’t have to feel like our life decisions are constricted by those hoping for a certain outcome.

We have spent the past four years working our butts off to get a degree. Shouldn’t we be proud of that accomplishment and excited about what the future holds?

I say we should. I say, in the words of the ever so wise Miley Cyrus, “Forget the haters.” Do what you want after graduation, whether that’s working at an ice cream shop or backpacking through South America for two years.
Do what you want with the knowledge you’ve hopefully gained these past few years, and be proud of it. You’ve earned the right to do what you need to do for you.

edougan@willamette.edu

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