The Future Freaks Me Out

This is my stressed face.

I wanted to be a farmer when I grew up.

It was a dead cert in my mind. I didn't consider where I'd get my farm, I'd just... have one. I didn't consider how I'd go about running this farm, I'd just run it. It was all clear and simple, because if I wanted to be a farmer, that's what I'd be.

Nowadays, my career path is not quite so clear as 5-year-old Melissa's. In a couple of months I'll be a university graduate (fingers crossed I've passed my exams), and at this stage in my life I find myself answering this question almost daily - "So, what's next?"

Every time I hear this question I want to cry. I want to scream, "I'VE GOT NO FREAKING CLUE, DON'T ASK ME ABOUT IT!"  I don't really want to tell my dear old Granny that right now, I want to enjoy having nothing on my proverbial plate; I want to scuttle down to my favourite corner of Cornwall and stay with my boyfriend in Cornish bliss for a couple of months and enjoy just living: no thinking about the future, no worrying about where I'll be this time next year.

It's true, though - I haven't a clue what I want to do with my life. I've spent three years studying for a well-respected degree from a well-respected university, which is great - but unfortunately, it barely interested me. Of course, I cannot blame anyone for assuming that once a person attains their law degree, their next step is to become a lawyer. That's not an unfair assumption to make. But when I tell people that actually, my study of the law has made me less keen on taking that path, I find myself floundering at the inevitable next question - so what do you want to do instead?

I'm so fortunate to have parents who don't pressure me, and who support me in any way they can. Last summer, I had a long chat with them about where in the working world I might be comfortable. We combed through my defining traits and interests, and tried to think of career paths that might engage me. I came away from that conversation feeling better than I had in a long time - I have things to offer! There are careers out there that are perfect for me! I just need to figure out what they are...!

I also have the fortune of the knowledge that for the time being, no matter what I'm doing (or not doing) career-wise, there will be a place for me to stay under my parents' roof. I won't be homeless if it takes me a year or two to figure out what to do with myself. And that's awesome to know.

A few months ago I stumbled upon an internet post written by a 50-something-year-old man who had written an open letter to us young'uns worried about beginning our careers. This man emphasised one thing which made me feel so much better about my current position: he told us that none of us know what we're doing. Not the 30-year-olds, not the 45-year-olds. We're all just getting by, taking our lives one step at a time. I would bet good money that 99% of us couldn't accurately predict at the age of 21 where we will be at the age of 50.

All we need to do is capitalise on what we're good at, seek opportunities and take any damn opportunity we're given! If I got offered a job tomorrow that isn't even close to my dream job (whatever the hell that is), but did offer me some experience and something to put on my CV, I'd take it in a heartbeat. Because the reality is, we can't be picky at this age, and who knows what doors these opportunities may open in a few years.

So, to anyone asking me what's next, here's my honest answer.

Right now, I'm going to enjoy a few months of nothingness. I will max out my overdraft doing things that I haven't had the chance to do before because the past 5 years of my life have been spent obtaining this piece of paper saying I've got a degree. When that's all done and my bank balance is dry, I'm going to move back in with my parents and look for any menial job and save up some money. In my free time, I'll apply to anything and everything that I find which sounds remotely interesting. And hopefully at some point I'll catch a break, and the ball will start rolling.

We have no idea what we're doing. And that's a good thing; it makes the future more exciting.


  1. This was really inspiring - I could not agree more! And thanks a lot for the follow :)