Since the day I was accepted to the McCombs School of Business I have been and always will be a proud, burnt-orange-blooded University of Texas Longhorn. My college experience has had tremendous value in my life as a whole. I also know a degree is necessary to enter the door in a variety of careers. This article is not meant to question the education system, nor is it meant to sway anyone for or against going to college.
That being said, there are thought processes I learned while at school which I’ve needed to unlearn upon entering the “real world.” And honestly, it took me about two and a half years after graduating to feel like they were shed. It’s my hope it doesn’t take anyone else this long, but feel free to share your own story below!
So what’s the thing I wish someone told me the day I graduated (or maybe a few days before at least)?
From here on out there will be no more end of the tunnel (degree), nor a designed road map for you to get where you’d like to go … but that’s also okay, if you can learn to define those things yourself.
The comparison I always give is college is like a mountain you climb. Each semester you are given specific coursework and have specific milestones–designated for you by the university–as you progress toward the top. Waiting for you at the peak is your degree and there is a finality in earning it. My graduation day was one of the most accomplished I’ve felt and it should be this way.
However, life is not like this AT ALL. Once you reach the tip of your college mountain you realize the path to follow next is determined and must be built by you alone.
From there three things can happen, either distinctly or in a combination:
- Dilemma #1: You fall right back down – it’s a scary thing being done. Your whole college career the thought is so bitter-sweet, but soon enough it’s over. Sorry, no more parties or student section at the football games. This dilemma is for the people who don’t find the career they even think they MIGHT like. Once again, this is okay and normal. When college is over though and you don’t have a clue like so many others, who will be there to help you find one? The answer is no one and this can lead to a crash.
- Dilemma #2: Your path becomes flat – so you lined up a job or an internship and you think you have it all figured out … only you don’t. This one, ladies and gentlemen, was me. And honestly, even here I still crashed HARD. I had the job and income, but I was so used to reaching toward something that it seemed I had forgotten to pay attention to the most important question: why was I reaching? So there I was in a position with no defined ladder up. Even if one was set for me though, I didn’t know if I wanted to become the people above me. At this point I had no idea what I was working FOR and the monotony was a big challenge mentally.
- Solution: Learn to build mountains of your own to climb – as I mentioned, this took two and a half years for me to figure out how to do. The most important thing though is to take the time to figure out who you are and how you love to fill your time. What is the greatest thing you have to offer the world? What is it you’d be doing for a full day without feeling like you’ve worked for a single minute? If you find those things and do them relentlessly, new goals (mountain tops) will become clear.
Examples in my life
For me, I learned to build mountains by writing. I had always written music and loved great stories. The more I immersed myself in those things on a personal level, the closer I came to my discovered passion of writing as a lifestyle. As it started to take over my day-to-day, the milestones became part of my natural lifestyle.
This, in my opinion, has been such an important shift in my perspective on personal happiness as a whole. It’s also been great to see some of my friends find what drives them in their own diverse passions. To show you this isn’t just a “creative/artist” type of thing, see the below list of examples:
- Blues and guitar
- Craft beer brewing
- Art and design
- Video games and streaming
- Writing and poetry
- Body building
- Supplemental health insurance (not even kidding!)
The common theme when talking to each is the way their face lights up when discussing the topic. They could go on for hours at a time discussing their passions and I personally feed off their excitement. As seen above, even someone who loves supplemental health insurance can be engaging if it’s what they love. That’s not a subject I would have ever thought about in my free time, but when this person speaks on it, it becomes as interesting to me as anything else!
So to conclude, graduates of the University of N.B. Austin, focus on finding yourself and what matters to you. After you do this, the rest will be clear. Hope this helped or made you think in some way. Whether it did or not, let me know your thoughts below and hope you’re enjoying the Civilands series 🙂