Let’s get something clear before we dive any deeper into the murkiness of life after college, the next two posts aren’t the cheat codes to life. Rather, what I want to offer hope that you can in fact do this and do this well.
So, the question is: What do I do now?
Well before we get there I think we should be clear about how life looks like after you have accepted that diploma and tried to do a back flip on stage.
Scary and hopefully a little encouraging, right? Things will in fact become more challenging pretty much all around. But in other news if you really didn’t like being in school, at least you can say that is over now!
Practically, you have a few different options for what to do after undergrad. There is Grad School. There is the work force. There is the way of the Artist. And there is limbo:
All are plausible options (some more desirable than others). But as unbelievable as it seems I have worn the shoes of all four since I graduated undergrad.
I had so many plans for myself after graduation. I knew since I was in high school that by the time I was done with college I would have my first novel published and I would be en route to my wedding day living near my friends and families.
Instead since graduating, I have been in limbo (more than once) been a poor artist living at home, worked full time in a church, started grad school and I have lived in four different states. You are probably thinking, Wow! That is a lot of experience Matt, you must be in your thirties for sure!
My response is laughter because I graduated college a bit over two years ago.
So how does the ridiculousness of my experience after college help you, specifically? Well, the main theme that all four possibilities after college hold is that you can either do them well or do them poorly. The question shouldn’t be what do you do now as much as it should always be HOW do I do it well. Whatever “it” may be.
I was recently in a meeting for my graduate school program, where we discussed vocation. The speaker shared with us that we must eventually narrow down our options and pick a route of what we desire to do. I looked around the room and laughed to myself, I had thought we all narrowed down our options when we agreed to get our Masters degree, but apparently it has not been narrowed down quite enough.
I say this because this was a room made up of people ages 24-64. And it is safe to say that what we “do” changes over our life, but how we do it can be as consistent as we desire.
The fact is that after you graduate there will be a field in front of you. When you look at it you may see weeds that seem too fierce or your field may look empty and dry. Either way there is life in that field and it is your job to plow and bring it life. To “plow” well after graduation, I think requires us to lean into two commandments found in the New Testament. Do not worry and love.
Whether you are jobless, running your own start-up, raising a family, entering marriage or writing the next great novel you can choose not to worry and to love daily. The important things of life will either flourish or dry up and die because of how you do what you do.
While this advice might seem more holistic than practical, I assure you that trusting God and loving others will make your day more than worth living every day, no matter what you do. But, because I can’t help but to be practical here is a word of wisdom I received from a professor at one point.
If you are discerning your “purpose” is God’s divine tapestry, your place in the artistry of it all, answer these two questions: What breaks your heart and baffles your mind? Chances are if you know the answer to these questions you know which field your plow belongs.