What to do after you graduate (the pressure is real!)
What do I do after I graduate?
It’s the question on every young woman’s lips.
Maybe you’ve found yourself agonising over this question for months on end, worrying about what path to take after high school. Maybe you’re unsure what path to take after college. You’re worried that if you make the wrong choice, your future will be doomed.
Ye-ouch! The pressure is kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?
I get it because I’ve been there.
Let me take you back to high school Elise - grade 10 to be exact. At my school, we had to book a mandatory appointment with the careers advisor, so that she could ‘advise’ us on the next step to take after graduation.
I remember walking in to her office a little nervous but filled with hope. Hope because I thought she was about to point me in the direction of my dreams. Nervous, because I doubted that would actually be the case. And so I went in there starry eyed and with knots in my stomach. I shared the dream I’d had since I was 11 years old: I wanted to be an actress. Almost as quick as the words left my mouth, she affirmed what I’d feared the most when she said, “that’s not a very practical option, Elise. What else are you interested in?”
Have you ever experienced your dreams being crushed and thrown to the side?
This was that moment for me, and it stung.
Within a few moments, the careers adviser showed me architecture and engineering handbooks - a far cry from my interest in acting, writing and singing - and signed me up for a university careers day.
I left feeling disheartened and confused. Wasn’t she supposed to help me?
So off I went to a university open day to test out my interest in engineering. It turns out, engineering really wasn’t for me. No surprise there. While it was an ‘intelligent’ choice on paper, when it came to the day, I didn’t even make it to the introductory lecture. I wasn’t a superstar at math and I didn’t really like my physics class. I found joy in writing and creating - drama, art and english - and I was good at those things.
You see, I found myself in a place where if you chose to study medicine, engineering or science, you were celebrated. But if you chose something creative, it was as if you were settling for ‘less than’.
Which, for the record, is so untrue.
So what do you do when it feels like everyone is pushing you in a direction that you don’t want to go in?
What do you do when you have dreams in your heart but you don’t know how to outwork them?
And what do you do when you don’t even have a dream or a clue where to go next?
Here are four tips to guide you through this tricky season.
1. Take the pressure off yourself, and turn to God.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”
- 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT)
The bible instructs us to give our worries and cares to God. You can do this assured that God cares about you. So go to God with all of your worries and concerns. Go to God with your dreams and your confusion and your disappointment. Take it all to him!
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
- Colossians 3:15 (NIV)
As believers, we are called to let God’s peace rule in our hearts. Be intentional and spend time in prayer and worship and let God trade your worry for his peace.
2. Take your passions to God
God created you and every strand of your DNA, and he doesn’t make mistakes. Your gifts and talents sure aren’t random. In fact, God wants to use your gifts and talents to glorify him. Can you even imagine what God could do through you if you give your dreams, talents and gifts to him?
3. Ask God to shape your future
The most powerful words I’ve ever prayed are “God, let your will be done in my life.” This prayer changed my life and aligned my perspective with God’s perspective. I encourage you to pray it too. It’s simple: Ask God to use you for his will. In Ephesians, we see what God can do through a life that is surrendered to him.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.”
- Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)
Imagine what can happen if you surrender your plans to God and allow him to do more in your life?
4. Be obedient to God’s call
God has things for you to do each day on this earth - big things, seemingly small things and everything in between. But nothing is insignificant. What is God calling you toward? Is it a certain job? A particular study path? You don’t have to have all of the answers to be obedient to God. Oftentimes you just need to take the first step and let God guide you through your personal relationship with him. God won’t leave you stranded.
If you have no idea what to do, step out anyway.
Here’s the thing about my story. I ended up studying journalism and business. I learnt a heck of a lot. But most importantly, throughout this time I learnt to surrender my dreams and plans to God. I learnt that your purpose isn’t found in a singular study path, field, or job. I learnt that purpose is found in knowing God and being obedient to him every step of the way. This let me to quitting my full time job to follow what God had placed on my heart.
You’re young and you’ve got your whole life ahead of you. So step out and give things a go. Start that blog that’s been on your heart. Set up that business you’ve dreamed of starting. Apply for that job that scares the heck out of you. What’s the worst that could happen? You hit a roadblock, make a change and take a different route?
Let God guide you.
There is no straight line through life. It’s a really messy squiggle with a whole lot of assignments to complete and lessons to learn along the way. And that’s more than OK when God is the one guiding your path. As you fix your eyes on God and surrender yourself to him, he will continue to steer you in the right direction.
If you want clarity around your calling and how you can make an impact in the world…