A personal reflection on what I’m looking forward to after graduation.

It’s hard to visualize my graduation. I cannot picture what walking up to get my diploma will feel or sound like. I’m sure I’ll be too nervous to remember much and be relieved when my part up in front of everyone is over. 

However, it does seem unreal for another reason, which is the fact that I’ve been working toward the goal of graduation for so long. The upcoming actuality of being entirely done with college — and school — for good does not fit into my reality yet. No more classes, homework, late-night assignments or due dates. I know I will still have some of these things in any job that I might have in the future. However, those things in the context of school will never be a part of my life again. I am looking forward to that moment and what I’ve worked toward for so long. 

Adjusting to accepting this as my future reality is made easier by the fact that the future after graduation looks fairly straightforward for me for at least another six or seven months. Beyond that, though, anything is on the table, and I’m actually thrilled to have so much uncertainty. Of course it comes with its anxieties and stress, but I’m looking forward to it being a different kind of stress than I experience now. I have found that when I can see the benefits of the changes that will happen in my life, I am less naturally resistant to them. 

Along with life changes in general, I am also excited about figuring out what I want to pursue after graduation. While I have loved earning my degree in journalism, I’m not sure what field I actually want to go into. This is something I had to learn to be comfortable with over and over again; it was a process. I have gone through this process multiple times, and some times have been harder than others. 

I first went through a shift in thinking about what I wanted to do with my life after I changed my major sophomore year from kinesiology to journalism. I had realized that I was pursuing a career related to my aspirations to be an athletic trainer, but I was not pursuing my true passion. I have always loved books, writing and reading. I get excited about people’s stories and am naturally inquisitive about the world and other people’s lives. These factors are what led me to this choice. 

The next shift I went through was probably the hardest one so far in figuring out where I wanted to pursue a career. I had to come to terms with the fact that I had no idea what I actually wanted to do beyond college. I had been following the path to becoming a journalist but began to understand near the end of my junior year of college that I wasn’t sure if that career was for me. 

While I loved people’s stories and had a passion for writing, when I dug into my personality and what I am naturally good at, the fast-paced, intense atmosphere that surrounds newsrooms and reporting did not coincide with that picture. I was shoved into this realization as I was applying for internships the summer before my senior year. As I wrote cover letter after cover letter for different journalism intern positions, I felt like I was being fake. I was just embellishing and manipulating when writing things about myself to sound good. Yes, I was a leader and invested in writing. However, the job descriptions I was reading did not sound like anything I could sustainably have a passion for doing. I know that not all journalistic positions fit this specification, and I don’t point this out to belittle the profession. I have incredible respect and admiration for those whose souls are awakened in that environment and can thrive. Maybe I’ll come back to it someday.

But during that summer, I had to come to terms with the fact that that was not me. “So where do I go from here?” was my question. 

I would say God answered that through the rejection of my internship applications again and again from every journalism-related job. At the end of my patience, I had a random idea to start applying to nonprofits. Suddenly, responses flooded into my previously desert-dry inbox. 

I’ve been interning for about three months at a nonprofit organization that works to help at-risk girls and women go from hopeless to hopeful. In my limited time there, I have found a passion for the kind of work that I am learning to do. I discovered that what I felt was missing from my journalistic drive was a bigger purpose. I need for the work and writing I am doing to have a deeper meaning than just writing or working. I know all jobs have meaning, but for some, it has to come from your own motivation and drive. I came to realize that I need an extra layer of importance.

When I finally stopped fighting against this, a whole different path of opportunities opened up to me. I don’t have to use my writing skills for just journalism; I can use what I learned in my major in any communications environment as well as my passion for people’s stories.

This journey of self-discovery so far has not only taught me more about the direction I want to take my career but also how to be open to new possibilities that would have felt too scary and uncertain before. Being open to the changing of the seasons in life is important because if we are too closed off and focused on one goal or direction, we can miss entire other ones that actually fit us better. I thought for a long time that I had to force myself to be someone who fit into what I wanted to do. However, I have learned that it is more important to understand who God made me to be and then find a career or path that aligns with that. 

There are so many possibilities. I understand now that it’s not a bad thing to have limits on what I am capable of but to not let that stop me from pursuing what I am passionate about. It just might have to be in a different way or career than I originally planned. I learned this through a tough journey, but I’m very glad I did. Now, as I look toward graduation, I am filled with excitement because of these realizations and growth. 

I’m probably at one of the most uncertain times in my life, and I’ve never been more okay with that. Walking across that stage is just the beginning, and I’m so ready for it.