If you’ve read any of my other articles, then brace yourself because this one is going to be a little different. A little more personal.
Growing up, I got the general sense that there was a common misconception among adults in regard to the younger generation. They think we have everything handed to us on a silver platter, our life is easy, and we’re arguably quite self-centered and dramatic, gaining us the name ‘snowflakes’ (for being quite weak-willed and finding an issue with everything despite not knowing real struggles). They think that we don’t work hard and that we’re difficult to get along with. And I can’t deny that some of that isn’t true.
The younger generations are privileged to be growing up in a society where everything is being created, improved, or changed somehow. We have a lot of opportunities available to us that were never around for previous generations, and there are way more job opportunities than a person could ever have imagined. But that doesn’t mean you can take away the struggles of an entire generation of people. You can’t speak for the troubles of someone when you’ve never walked in their shoes.
Because some adults fail to understand that while we have many more opportunities available to us, these come with their downfalls too. There may be a lot of jobs, but there are even more people trying to go for the same role. How can I, a postgraduate get a job against someone who worked for 40 years of their life? I don’t have the same experience as you, and I can’t gain any in a world where nobody is willing to give it.
But that’s not the main gripe of this article. No, the problem that I’m tackling today is this;
How do you expect me to know what I want to do in 5 years' time? How do you expect me to have my entire life written out when I’m 18 years old? More importantly, what am I supposed to do when I change my mind?
When I was a child, I wanted to be a Fairy. Then I wanted to be an Author, an Astronaut, and then a Doctor. When I was in College, there was an expectation of me almost immediately that I knew exactly what I wanted to be. I can’t dictate my entire life’s story to you at the age of 17 years old. Growing up isn’t supposed to be the segway into your future. It’s supposed to be the time you make mistakes. You get up again because you fell last time. You lose your way, and then you find it again. You try new things and you make new experiences, you decide what you want to do and then you decide again.
How do I get so far in life thinking I want to do one thing, only to change my mind at the last hurdle? You think we do it because we’re ungrateful. Because we don’t understand the opportunities we’re given, and we don’t work hard enough at them. But it’s much the same way as children think that you reach a certain age and suddenly adult-hood clicks. I was the same way! I thought that at the age of 18 years old, I would suddenly think like an adult. But now I’m 21 and I can’t say I feel any different than I did when I was 16. I still have similar hobbies, friends, and overall interests.
I’m 21 years old, but really what’s any different? When I’m 40 years old, what will be any different? I might have a full-time job, I might have a child. I might be in the middle of moving house. But when you take all of that responsibility away, I won’t be a different person.
I finished University with a Law and Criminology Degree. Lo and behold, being a Lawyer is not what I want with my life right now. Maybe in a few years' time, that might change, but that’s not what I want to be at this very moment So how do I use the skills that I’ve acquired in the last few years, and try something new?
It’s hard. I left University with the constant question ‘What do you want to be?’. The snide remarks of ‘You should know by now’ and the knowledge that all my friends were continuing their studies for a Masters degree, with a clear goal in mind. In fact, I can only list three people who understand my struggles. My elder sister admitted that she is the only person that she knows from her University course who still works in the same field that they have a degree, my Auntie said that waiting to do her Masters was the best decision she ever made because it allowed her to fully decipher if she enjoyed the job enough to take it further, and finally one other friend, who was in the same position as me and ended up training to be a Teachers Assistant.
You just finished your degree. It’s time to find a job and become an adult. It’s daunting, knowing that education is over, and once you get a job, that’s the rest of your life. So what do you do now?
Well, the answer is pretty simple, surprisingly. You take some time to figure it out. I know that doesn’t sound particularly helpful, but hear me out.
Getting a degree is tiresome. Working towards any final educational goal is tiresome, actually. So take a break. Take some time to figure out what it is that you really want to do, and don’t feel limited by what you already have. I have a law degree. You might think that that means I only have one path ahead of me but it doesn't. Whatever you have, is individual to you, and you should use it in whichever way is best for you. That degree gave you skills. It gave you knowledge, and it gave you determination. And sure, you might not use those skills in the way they were meant to. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still use them nonetheless.
It’s time for that obligatory part of every semi-motivational piece of work when we start with the name-dropping. Samuel L. Jackson originally studied Architecture…a far cry away from acting. Likewise, Courtney Cox (known for playing Monica in Friends) also studied Architecture and Interior Design before landing her role. Russell Howard started his stand-up career while studying Economics, and Margret Thatcher originally worked as a research chemist. Hugh Jackman was a PE teacher!
A lot of people ended up doing something completely different from what they originally planned. Not many people are where they thought they would be.
I put the skills that I developed over the span of three-year law degree to good use writing these articles including the very one you’re reading. A degree gives you patience. It gives you understanding, and dedication. It gives you the ability to read large pieces of text and summarise it to the key pieces of information. I then used this skill, paired my own general enjoyment for creative writing to create these informational pieces of work.
Your degree does not define who you are, and regardless of how you use it, it is never and will never be a waste. Before I start to wrap this up, I would also like to add that it is never too late to try something new. If this appeals to you, be sure to check out the GreenTruth Conference . These talks will be an excellent networking opportunity, and will be covering a range of climate and environment-related topics. The environment is the future, and it could be yours too.
Everyone in life moves at their own pace. Whether that’s walking to the shops, or walking through the doors of their brand-new career, it takes everyone a different amount of time to get there.
And I want to tell you one thing. Something that I wish somebody had told me a long time ago. No matter what you think you have, no matter what you think defines you, or how special you think you are or aren’t, I can guarantee you that you have one thing that nobody else has.
You have yourself.
You have your own brain, your own way of thinking, of getting to the solution of a problem. You have your own motivations, goals, and speed at doing things. You might not be the brightest. You might not be the fastest. But you are you. The people before you may have walked so that you could run, but at the end of the day, that doesn’t take away from anything that you’ve done. Anything that you’ve achieved.
Because you are who you are, and that should be a selling point enough.
(n.d.) Career inspiration: what famous people did for their degrees, Targetjobs. https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/career-ideas/career-inspiration-what-famous-people-did-their-degrees (Accessed: January 05, 2022)