The 15th of November officially marked the final exam, and technically the final day, of my undergraduate degree. Though I come from an extremely academic family, there were definitely moments in the 3 years that I was studying that I doubted my abilities and reasons for studying in the first place. It was a tough journey, and though I whined about how I was so ready for it to be over, I know I miss it all the same. And so, as one chapter of my life comes to a close, the inevitable question stands: what now?
It’s the same question that I posed to myself as high school was coming to a close and it was time to put through our preferences for university. It’s the question that seems to stir more questions than it does provide answers. Just over 3 years ago when I was contemplating my answer to this question, going to university seemed like the option. The only option. When I even hinted at taking a gap year to my family, they immediately went into a state of lockdown with what seemed like pre-prepared and overly rehearsed responses to talk me out of the gap year: “If you do, you won’t go to university anymore” and “What would you do otherwise? This is the smart thing to do” and the ever present: “What about your siblings? You need to be a good example, you’re the eldest”. I know in my heart that they meant well, and there are people in my family who would have respected my choices regardless of what I ultimately decided on. But when the mindset is drilled into you for your entire life, through conscious efforts and subconscious influences, it becomes almost second nature to choose what has been chosen for you. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret going into the degree that I went into, and I definitely enjoyed my time at university. But would I have chosen something else if I had been brave enough to do so? Ah, and it’s that feeling that made the answering of the “What now?” question all the more difficult.
I had done what was expected of me – I went to university and finished my degree. I balanced volunteering and working with achieving good grades. I strived to be a good example to my little brother and sister. I didn’t take that gap year. So now that I had done what I was meant to do, the “What now?” question led to the “Do you know what you really want?” question which then led to the, “Are you brave enough to do it” question. For as long as I can remember, I’ve chosen to do the “smart” thing. It wasn’t necessarily always the “safe” thing, but it felt safe to stick to what I, or what I was told, was the smart thing to do. And now, with all the opportunity in the world and no one pushing for me to fulfil any sort of expectation, I have nothing else to do but be brave. It was a harrowing journey – trying to figure out exactly what it is I wanted to do with myself after graduation. Everyone that I speak to these days are either killing it doing something they love or something that makes sense or something that makes them happy or they are in a rush to “catch up” to those who already know the direction they want their life to head towards. While I’m not 100% certain about what I want to do for the rest of my life, I know what makes me happy, and for now that is good enough.
I took the biggest leap and decided to pursue experience in a completely different field in an almost totally unrelated industry (but I’m blessed that Psychology is quite relevant to almost everything). So, now that I have graduated from my undergraduate degree in Psychology (pending the actual graduation ceremony some time in 2017), I have officially enrolled in a Master of Publishing and begun a publishing internship for a book launch campaign. I’ve always loved reading and writing and how words can do so much. All my crazy dreams seem to stem from writing, so I figured why not take the risk?
Here’s hoping that it all goes well!