By Taylor Wolf | Social Media Editor
Recently, I was having a conversation with a mentor when she began to ask me if I had any more clarity on my post-grad plans. Almost cutting herself off, she immediately apologized for asking because she read in an editorial (“Seniors, it’s OK to not have a plan”) to stop asking seniors that question because of its negative mental and emotional effects.
There is some definite truth in those points made, however, on the whole, I don’t think anyone should shy away from asking students about their post-grad plans. It is absolutely OK to not have everything figured out yet. It’s absolutely OK for people to know that – don’t feel embarrassed. If someone makes you feel badly or insecure about it, know that it’s their judgment or perception, and hopefully they mean well and just want to understand.
So, people asking the “post-grad question”: be gracious and patient. People answering the “post-grad question”: also be gracious and patient, with yourself and whoever asked you.
While it can often be annoying, try and not see the question as an inherently bad or interrogative thing. It can be a good opportunity to not take yourself so seriously and treat the pending conversation as a way for you to gather your thoughts and talk through your indecisiveness. I know just talking about what I could see myself doing, even though I’m not sure, or talking someone through what I definitely don’t want to do helps me find some sort of direction. Sometimes people’s questions even present a new perspective to me about my career interests or professional skills that I hadn’t thought about.
I am aware that some people aren’t external processors like I am, however, looking at the question as a sounding board over an interrogation can really help the situation. It’s also true that some people are just nosy, and obviously no one is inherently entitled to know what your prospective plans or interests are post-grad. Sometimes you really just don’t feel like explaining something you haven’t figured out yet.
Still, I don’t think it would be right to just try to kill the question altogether. Being put in uncomfortable situations and dealing with irritating people helps you grow. If we eliminate the right of people to ask when they’re curious or care, we’re robbed of opportunities to grow, share and externally work through our thoughts.
If someone asking you about your post-grad gives you anxiety, maybe you’re putting to much pressure on yourself or trying too hard to please other people. Relax and be confident in your imperfection and lack of a nailed-down plan. Honestly, you probably have more figured out than you think anyway. Focus on what you know and be excited to move forward and figure out what you don’t – because you can! Be confident in that ability. It’ll take some of the stress and anxiety away when someone poses the post-grad question to you.