It’s after graduation. There’s the calm after the bombardment of photos, the hush after the grand ceremonies and the quiet after the endlessly playing loop of “Pomp and Circumstance.” You’re excited that you’re finally done. It’s still May and you’ve got time to decompress before life really starts to hit you. Well, guess what, it’s June.
So now what? Maybe you’re off taking that necessary post-grad vacation to Taiwan or the Hamptons. Maybe you’re already working on your med school applications during your gap year. Or maybe you’ve moved back home and are questioning what you really learned in college while you desperately scramble to find a company to hire you. Whatever it is you’re doing now, there may be a thought clinging to the back of your mind that goes along the lines of, “So this is it? This is the real world? This really isn’t that great.”
Perhaps you’re beginning to panic, feeling left behind as you see a stream of Facebook and Instagram posts from old classmates and peers who are already enrolling in law school, landing full-time jobs or beginning their work as Fulbright scholars — which is pretty kickass. To those people, thanks for everything you’re doing for the human race (but also, we kind of hate you).
But joking aside, I find it okay — if not necessary — to have this feeling of absolute chaos. I think that regardless of who you are and what you have accomplished, we all will always, at one point or another, believe we’re somehow lagging behind overachievers or that we just need to do better, be better. And isn’t that good? The constant push for us to keep going and find our next big thing to do?
Coming from a person who is graduating in five years instead of following the traditional four-year track, I wholeheartedly believe in this reality because of the students at UC Berkeley. Going to school at UC Berkeley and seeing the many students who enrolled in college at 25, 35 and even 55 years old, I am in complete awe. From conducting research on educational inequalities in America and becoming a Haas Scholar, to enlisting in the army and returning to college, to raising a family while studying two majors, these re-entry students I have met have achieved incredible things in spite of the unconventional routes they have taken to UC Berkeley and the judgment they must have felt at going to school with people generations younger than them.
Yet, here they are at the No. 1 public university, pushing themselves to create their own unique paths — ones that are often without precedent or guidance.
Watching these students at UC Berkeley, I’ve discovered the reality that there is no “right path” throughout college and beyond — that’s the most terrifying part but also the most thrilling.
So continue that research project and constantly change your entire thesis. Pursue a doctorate and then decide you just want to begin your own startup. Work full time for a company and see that it’s the worst and choose to search for that new passion. We have so many opportunities waiting to be discovered. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be so gratifying. We just need to remind ourselves of that now.
So now what for us? Well, just about anything we want.
Contact Katrina Fadrilan at [email protected] .