Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Looking Ahead: the Post College Dilemma

As recent college graduates, we find ourselves analyzing life and pondering to answer the question “now what?” Four years of our lives that we will never get back (or however long it takes you to get a degree) have flown by, and for once, the answer to the question “what are you doing with your life?” can no longer be “Oh, I’m still in school.” It’s almost as if that phrase was a bulletproof vest of some sort that aided us in dodging the harsh realities of adulthood; but with that no longer being a valid excuse (at least for those not pursuing a higher degree right away), the pressures of adulthood hits, and strikes hard. What comes next?

Some of us have it all figured out (or at least we think we do). Some recent grads waste no time, and jump right into the pursuit of a higher degree. Others take advantage of this time to gain internship experience in the field that they one day hope to have a career in. Some go after any jobs that they can find in order to start paying back student loans. Some (like me) look for moderately paying jobs in the field that they one day hope to pursue a career in, while taking a hiatus from school. Then there is the group who is done with school for the foreseeable future, and is forced to find a job that will immediately help them embark on their careers. And lastly, there is the group who spend their college years going after a degree that they have no idea what to do with: the confused ones. Given the varying circumstances, we all have one thing in common; the pursuit of a level of success.

Success is defined differently by everyone. To some, success is marked by wealth. To others, it is marked by happiness. To some, success is attained by living up to the expectations set by our parents, family members, or even ourselves. To others, success is simply proving the doubters wrong. Whatever your definition of success may be, it must be explicitly determined before one can begin working towards it. For starters, one must have a goal. What do you want to be in life? What do you want to do in life? Once you have that figured out, you must develop a plan to work towards that result. The end goal is the ultimate motivator. Success might mean taking the highest paying job you are offered right out of college. Success might mean sacrificing a high paying job and settling for a lessor one simply for the experience that you may potentially gain, in order to obtain higher paying positions down the road. Success might mean sacrificing an income for several years, just to attain another degree that will ultimately yield twice the amount of income. Success is inevitably a subjective term; however, at the end of the day, we all want to succeed.

A variety of obstacles may stand in the way of that success; however it is important to keep in mind that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. To achieve, one must work. To attain, one must persevere. To arrive at the top, one must start from the bottom. Success is a process; so on the days when you feel like giving up, just remember that you’ve got to start somewhere, and that you have already invested a vast majority of your time into this process. Little progress is better than no progress. One day when you’re 42 with a family, a house, and many millions (or whatever your perfect life would consist of), it will all be worth the extra effort that you put into attaining this level of success. One day when you look into the mirror and can honestly say, "I am proud of you," you will know that you have finally accomplished what you set out to achieve.  Until then, just remember, keep looking ahead. Success comes to those who go after it.   

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