I’m not a failure because I don’t know what to do after uni
So stop asking me, I will cry
I pride myself in my organised nature; I like file dividers, mini post it notes and colour coordination. I thought I was organised when I was younger too. From about the age of seven I had a life plan set out: I would do my A levels, go to RADA to study acting, get an agent, go on auditions and then if I hadn’t succeeded by 25 then (clearly) it wasn’t meant to be. I now look back on that and laugh, not laugh at it, but laugh at myself because of how differently things have turned out. I’ve actually ended up studying English Literature at Birmingham, something far different from my original plan, but it just proves the point that at this age, our plans and goals are constantly changing.
However, there’s always that one question that gets brought up by older relatives, friends and past teachers ‘So what do you want to do after uni then?’. And I do not have a clue how to answer it. I wish I had an answer, I really do, but the truth is I know more about what colour scheme I want in my future wedding than what career I want.
You see, the problem is I would love to do too many things: I’d love to be an author, a journalist, a zoo keeper, work with children, travel the world, help those in need, own a book shop, build a house, have 500 dogs, or even be a professional cake taster. In short, I have no idea what I’m going to do after uni. None. I have made a terrifying decision that my mum likes to call “crossing that bridge when we come to it” and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in that situation.
There is so much pressure on young people to choose their futures when they can barely choose what to have for lunch. 14 year olds are choosing their GCSE courses and 16 year olds are choosing their A level courses. It sounds normal, but when you think about the fact that these GCSE’s and A levels decide what uni you get into and what job you can get, it all starts to get a bit stressful. There is such a double standard for young people; you’re old enough to plan your entire life but not old enough to be mature. If you think about how huge this world is and how many things you can do, then how is it fair that we are asked, barely a quarter into our lives, to decide the rest of it? I’ve never encountered a situation more terrifying than having a breakdown to my mother because I had no idea what course I should choose for university. At 17 I shouldn’t be crying over career prospects, it doesn’t make any sense.
So, I want to let you know that you’re not alone. If you have absolutely zero idea what on earth you want to do when you’re final year is up, then we’re in the same boat. Maybe I’ll find out in my second year, maybe I’ll find out in my third year, or maybe I’ll end up moving back in with my parents and still have no idea. Whatever happens, I’m cool with it. We all need to be reminded that nothing is permanent and nothing is unchangeable. The world is literally your oyster (excuse the cliché) and in today’s society the opportunities are innumerable. Of course everyone needs some kind of plan, I’m not trying to advocate mindless university choices or closing your eyes and pointing to a degree, but for the moment just concentrate on one small thing at a time. The future is just that; the future. It can wait until you decide 100% what it is you want to do, because if you’re going to be doing something until you’re in your 60s and old enough to retire, then you really need to be sure that you love it more than anything.
If your future is a blur of options, embrace it. You’re never going to have this many doors open for you again. And just remember that it doesn’t matter what you do, as long it makes you happy. My mum shared a quote with me the other day; “it’s ok not to know what you want to do with your life; opportunities are out there waiting for you.” I feel like that basically sums up my entire point (and could have made this article much shorter); take your time and trust yourself, you’re the only one who knows the right thing for you.