Leading Stories

by Nicole Allen, Staff Writer

The common adult to toddler talking point “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is habitually asked before children can comprehend what growing up entails. We expect fluctuation in a child’s aspirations because, obviously, “mermaid” and “superman” are not real career paths, but, as young adults, we have the internal expectation that we must accomplish specific and premeditated goals as soon as we turn the tassel on our caps. 

Here’s the tea: Life doesn’t work that way.

According to Finder.com, 41 percent of men and 39 percent of women do not use their degrees in their current field and an average of 28 percent couldn’t find jobs relating to their degrees at all. 

If you are a student, this means you only have about a 50/50 chance of graduating and using your specific degree in your career. This statistic is frightening at first glance but doesn’t accurately represent the cause behind the effect. 

College provides an obvious a+b=c path to success, but the world outside of the campus has no formula and will often lead people down unexpected routes before reaching their destinations. 

Find Spark writer, Haemee C. Kang, said, “When most students graduate from college, they’re still in their early twenties. In other words, they haven’t even lived a third of their lives yet. To have the details figured out (What jobs will I work throughout my career? When will I figure out my greater purpose? When will I ‘settle down?’) is extremely difficult, if not impossible. Life is constantly in flux.”

Kang also said it is important to envision the person you want to become and take steps towards becoming that person, but you must simultaneously adapt to the unexpected challenges in effort to grow your skillset. 

I graduated high school in 2006 and attended college for a year before I had an existential crisis and dropped out. Over the span of 10 years, I wore many hats: nursing home office assistant, police dispatcher, police officer, child forensic interviewer, business owner, and mother. 

Each of these titles, although very different in nature, taught me valuable lessons and provided me with unique experience and, yet, none of them were my initial dream job. (Actually, becoming a mother was a dream come true, but it doesn’t pay the bills.)

Over the course of that decade I learned a crucial lesson for achievement. If you view your future path as an all or nothing agreement to yourself, you will fail. You must be willing to find your destiny in the unexpected.

In the 2019 movie Frozen II, Olaf arguably had the most profound line of the movie in his song “When I am Older”. As he was navigating the woods and his feelings, he sang, “growing up means adapting.”

In four words, a snowman gave you the key to living a prosperous life as an adult. 

If you feel yourself encompassed with anxiety about achieving all your dreams after college, stop. You’re not going to because, much like the children who aspire to become mermaids and superheroes, your desires will likely change. 

Like Jon Snow, you know nothing and neither do the rest of us, and that’s okay. You will spend your adult life trying to find adultier adults to teach you lessons you never realized you needed to learn. Get comfortable with the unknown, it will be the fuel that drives you towards success after college.

“Tea Time” is a continuing series of op-ed columns that covers various topics pertaining to life during and after college. It is currently authored by Voyager staff writer Nicole Allen.

1 thought on “Tea Time: Adapting to Life After College

  1. As Stephen Hawking said, “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” I, too, am a mother, and agree that although it is a dream job, it doesn’t pay the bills (it just pays in other dividends). You have some interesting work experience, especially child forensic interviewer. Unless you’re specializing in a certain field (like STEM), there is a good chance that you won’t use your degree per se, but I can attest that my college (and now university) experience has made me a much better writer and editor–hard skills that are highly prized in many vocations. Plus, college/university makes you think, and that’s what employers are looking for. Good luck on your journey!

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