As a 23 year-old soon-to-be college graduate (hopefully), I understand that we are all terrified.
We are all afraid that we're graduating with the wrong majors, that we'll never find a job, that students loans will drown us, that we'll miss college so much we'll want to die, etc. We hear the lamenting of our "real world" friends about how they couldn't wait to graduate and are now contemplating applying to any grad school program ever just to get them out of their cubicles. I had one friend tell me, "Stay in college as long as you can. Don't get trapped out here."
Yeah, that scared the shit out of me.
And I'm not the only one. Most of my soon-graduating friends and/or recent-graduate friends are excited to be done with writing papers and attending classes, but not so excited about the searching for jobs or working a 9 to 5. I get that.
What I don't get is people using the "finding myself" excuse for not heading into the meat market with everybody else. You'd rather spend 2 years traveling Europe than entering corporate America AND you can pull it off?
Hurrah! Do it and do it YESTERDAY.
But do not tell me you're going to find yourself in Mykonos. Just be real! You're going because you like to travel and traveling is more fun than being brow-beaten by some junior exec who is as afraid of you taking their promotion as you are of being them in 5 years.
I'll admit that traveling, doing community service, or just taking a year-off can all help you figure out what you want out of your life and where you want to go, but this is not finding yourself. This is just finding out what you want to do and, sorry, but you shouldn't define yourself by your job.
Finding yourself is about finding out who you are and what kind of person you want to be. You are who you are and if you want to change who that is, you need not travel around the world, ladle out soup to the homeless, or move back in with your parents. Like I said, those things can help, but you have to go in with the right mindset.
- Stay open to new experiences with familiar people and places. Just because you've known someone your entire life doesn't mean their not chock full of surprises.
- Trust yourself enough to know that you have your values for a reason. It's okay to listen to others opinions, beliefs, and ideas, but don't trade in everything you believe as soon as a you're exposed to something new. Conversely...
- Challenge yourself and everything you believe. If you don't know why you believe what you believe, you're just regurgitating something you've heard. Nothing makes you look or feel more stupid.
- Realize that you do not have an identical twin somewhere else in the world who is just waiting for you to find them so that the two of you can then morph into one complete person. You are who you are, and everything you can be is already inside of you. The world just helps bring it out.
I like to travel, serve the community, and no one enjoys time-off more than I do, but I these things because I like to do them. Not because I think they hold the key to the rest of my life. I do them because that's how I want to live my life.
And the "finding" is in the living.