There is inexpressible pressure that is pushed onto soon to be college graduates to find a job in their field before commencement day and I have been feeling that pressure since this January to find a job that pays the bills and uses my knowledge that I have gained as an English major here at Gustavus.
This spring, I’ll be graduating without a job in any of my preferred fields. Instead, I’ll be heading back to my hometown to work in the kitchen at the same restaurant I’ve worked at for a few summers since coming to Gustavus. And you know what? That’s okay.
It would be different if I had graduated four years ago and continued to be unemployed. I have had a regular job since I was fourteen after working for my parents for two years prior, helping out at my dad’s accounting firm. It’s safe to say that I have had some experience in the workforce, particularly when it comes to the hospitality industry.
I’m also extremely glad and proud of those who have found exciting jobs to go to after their time at Gustavus is over. What I am trying to get at is that you, my fellow Gustie, don’t have to know exactly what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life career-wise by this May. We’re young. We have so much time ahead of us to do whatever we want, even if that means going back to school to specialize in something completely different than what you studied here at Gustavus.
Don’t believe me? Let me tell you about a few people. Clothing designer Vera Wang failed to make the 1985 U.S. Olympic Figure Skating team before coming an editor at Vogue magazine. Wang now owns one of the most successful clothing design companies in the United States.
J.K. Rowling was a single mother living off of welfare when she was writing the first Harry Potter book. Five years later, Rowling became one of the wealthiest women in history (only to utilize her millions and time to international philanthropy between writing international best sellers).
Famous dancer Fred Astaire was told that he could not dance, sing, or act during his first screen tests before coming a Hollywood legend. Author Truman Capote dropped out of high school and became a paperboy for the New Yorker and was eventually fired prior to writing some of the most notable novels in American history. Even James Franco is working on a PhD now.
Granted, I’m not saying you need to set your sights on owning multi-million dollar companies or publishing bestselling novels in a few years after leaving Gustavus, but realize that even the most successful people on the planet have had some pretty big bumps in the road and even complete reversals in careers paths before finding their passions.
Give yourself a little bit of time. We all know we could use a bit of a breather after this tornado of academics, student life, and growing up at Gustavus. Gustavus is only the beginning of a larger life journey that is yours to control. So do what interests you. Work at a job that you hate for a while. Take a class in something you never thought you had the time for until after college. Learn a new skill (which is why I became a line cook in the first place).
A fear of failure can also lead to a fear of doing something that could be the next big thing in your life, so I know I’ll be going back to my hometown to work in a restaurant, but I also know that my story doesn’t stop there.
Who knows, maybe I’ll go back to school to study something completely different or have a job I never thought I would have in a few years,but that pressure to find the perfect career right after Gustavus is still there. Believe me when I say that the pressure to succeed right away is nothing compared to the lightness of finding something to do with your life that makes you excited to go to work in the morning.
We are individuals who are capable of making significant and meaningful changes in our lives in the time we have once we leave this campus. One chapter in our lives will end when we walk across the platform in our caps and gowns at the end of May, but the whole book of your life isn’t finished yet.
The same goes for all of you reading this who haven’t even begun to think about life after Gustavus, those of you trying to figure out what to major in, or even those of you who have only just started at Gustavus and want to dip your feet into all kinds of departments and knowledge bases as you look into your future at college.