PSA: Please Stop Asking Me What I’m Doing With My Life, It’s Freaking Me Out

The above statement applies to quite a few people at my age/stage. We’re in our twenties, we’re quite possibly about to finish our degrees, and the money shot, the one question everyone keeps asking, is

“What are you going to do next?” Or, “What will you do after this then?”

My default answers are “Teaching or Law, I’m not quite sure yet!” *awkward smile and laugh as I try not to hyperventilate and have a panic attack*.

The thing is, we live in an age of empty degrees. It’s no longer acceptable to ‘just get your bachelor’. You need the bachelor to do the next degree, and that degree will be the one that gets you the job, usually. So logically, you need to know what degree comes next, in order to get a ‘real’ job and start earning ‘real’ money that can pay back all that wonderful HECs debt you acquired with your first degree.

It’s a bit of a vicious cycle really, isn’t it?

The thing that’s making me a little mad about this whole situation is the feeling of inadequacy that accompanies me each time someone asks that stupid question. In year twelve, the world is at your feet, you’ve finished VCE, you’ve got that golden score and you can go anywhere, do anything! Now, three years later, you have an entire degree, but there’s no gold and there’s no real world at your feet, at least not in the same sense. Suddenly all those great marks, the great score, the successes of the last three years aren’t good enough, because at the end of the day I’ll have an empty degree, and depending on where I go from there, it may turn out that degree was useless.

Ideally? I would love, love, love to be offered honours straight off the bat for ancient worlds, hopefully leading to conservation work or lecturing and teaching at universities. That, or jumping over to ACU to complete a degree in secondary education and theology, because theology actually ties in quite well with all my ancient worlds stuff.

The REAL ideal, however, would be for people to stop asking me that fucking question. Because honestly I really don’t know. I still have a month of summer break, I haven’t even gotten my timetable yet, I’m trying to work out my work situation (in terms of shifts per week, etc.), I’m trying to lose weight (FOR MYSELF, not for any other person or reason), and quite frankly I’m just trying to keep my shit together most of the time (remember, this is the girl who struggles to match her bra and undies on a daily basis).

The other thing killing me is all of the choices and ‘opportunities’ people keep throwing at me. I keep hearing about my ‘potential’ and how there’s ‘so many things’ I could or should be doing. That’s all well and good, but it’s a whole other level of pressure to put on me. The boy has a clear path, and I’m so jealous; a degree in industrial design, with a minor in graphic design, leading to a career in… design. There. Done.

The beautiful thing about arts degrees is that they give you the opportunity to try and do many, many things, and there’s so many things to explore and discover and so many subjects and so many majors and minors but then you finish the degree and you get a career in…

(If anyone knows how to finish that sentence, lemme know, ok?)

To be brutally honest with you I just want to survive first semester. Last semester I was driving myself into the ground, working almost six days a week, at uni four days a week, as well as trying to balance my life (friends, family), the boy, and my well-being (gym time and sleepy time). I was so stressed I was snapping at people, struggling to get motivated, struggling to get to and attend all of my classes, fighting with my parents, and the boy, and ultimately it meant falling behind in one of my literature subjects so much so that I no longer think I’ll qualify for the department’s honours course. That really broke my heart, and I don’t want to experience that again.

So friends, if you ask me ‘What are you going to do next?” or “What will you do after this then?” and I laugh awkwardly and give you a smile, don’t take it as me being indecisive or lazy. That’s my only cover. And if I’m feeling this way, I’m sure there’s a whole bunch of other people at the business end of their degrees dealing with the same issues – let them laugh and smile awkwardly, and just know that they’ve been asking themselves that same question.

And none of us have any idea what the answer is, just yet.