Seniors, it’s OK to not have a plan

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

During the spring semester, seniors are faced with all sorts of life-changing moments — we are experiencing plenty of “lasts,” a few “firsts,” and we’re all trying to figure out what the heck we’re going to do with our lives. Mix in the bittersweet goodbyes we have to say, both to the university we love and to the people who have made our lives so special for the past four years, and it’s safe to say that seniors have quite a bit of soul searching on their plate.

Although our society often says that we have to know what we’re doing next at all times, that we have to be goal oriented and need to have a plan for the rest of our lives, that’s not true. It’s OK to not know what you’re doing post-graduation. It’s OK to be worried about your chosen career path. It’s OK to be unsure of where your life is leading you. And it is completely OK to not want to talk about your plans.

We all know the infamous question adults ask us whenever we start a conversation about our collegiate experience: “What are your plans after graduation?” What seems like a simple question can come off as an interrogation. There are many of us who absolutely hate that question because it triggers anxiety and self-consciousness about our lack of concrete plans. Others may have more definitive choices after graduation, but still may not want to speak openly about their career (or academic) pursuits.

To all non-seniors, please stop asking seniors what they’re doing after graduation. Our goals do not define us, and neither does our indecisiveness. If you are looking for conversation starters, here’s a list of a few good questions to ask that don’t have to do with graduation and what lies beyond.

  1. What has been your favorite memory of college?
  2. What is the best class you’ve taken?
  3. What did you like/dislike about your college experience?
  4. How do you plan to fill your free time without classes and homework?
  5. What was the wildest experience you had during college?

Those are just a few of the preferred questions for people searching for conversation topics with college students. It is much easier for students to think back on experiences and think about the known than it is to look into the future and the unknown. Not only does it offer comfort in a possibly awkward conversation, but it also alleviates pressure. Knowing that not every adult wants to know your next steps makes it seem that much less daunting.

As seniors, we’re leaving everything we’ve become accustomed for the past four years. For some, we will be returning to our hometown, to be reunited with our people, but also re-adjusting to being a part of the working world. For others, we may be jetting off to a new city, surrounded by strangers and faced with the task of figuring life out independently. Others may be somewhere in between. All that’s certain is that we’re leaving our collegiate safety net behind, and while we wrap our heads around that concept, we’d like to be given space to do so.

Seniors, the next few years of our lives are going to be the most formative experiences we’ve had yet. We will be fully functioning adults, sent out into the world to do our best at what we love. We should take advantage of the time we have left here, and enjoy it with the people we’ve spent the past four years pouring into. Don’t worry too much, because we don’t have to have it all together before we leave. Nobody has their life together, not even the adults asking you to figure it out. Take time to think about it, but don’t let the future control your present.