It’s a new academic year again, probably my last academic year for a long time, if not forever. Yes, contrary to popular belief English students do not all want to be teachers. Like everyone else though, we do have to decide what we want to do after we graduate. It’s that big C. I mean CAREER. Everyone I know is struggling to decide where they want their lives to go or, if they know their destination, how to get there. It’s both comforting and terrifying that everyone is in the same boat. Comforting because I realise that if everyone is feeling like this now, then everyone in previous years probably felt the same way and they’re all still alive. Terrifying because I really need someone to tell me how to sort my life out. A step-by-step guide, if you will.
That is not to say that I don’t have support, because I do. The University of Exeter have a brilliant careers service called the CareerZone which I have found invaluable for a number of reasons, not least the fact that you know there is someone there you can talk to, even if all they do is sit you down and tell you that although it might not feel okay now, it will be eventually. </sap>
My problem – and I don’t remember if I’ve spoken of this before – is that I have always known my path. Up to a certain point. As a child, I loved learning; I have always loved reading, and knowledge, and took great pride in my work. I was never popular, but I was never really unhappy because I had a very clear idea of what was important to me, and that was success. It was as if I was living my life in order to get to my idea of what I wanted my future to be. I’m not suggesting that’s a healthy way of thinking, but I was young. I knew that I wanted to do well at school, and go to university. The trouble is, that’s where my plan ended. I never really had a career in mind, the way some children want to be a doctor or a fireman or a tree… education was the extent of my plan. I hid behind this bookish Hermione-like persona, and I was okay with that.
My point is, that is makes this stage of my life suddenly very scary. I no longer have a plan that stretches years ahead. Heck, I no longer have a plan past my dissertation deadline! I’m already at the end of the first week of the first term of my final year as an undergraduate, and I now know that I want to work in book Publishing. I still want to be a published author, I want to travel, live in the States for a while, I want to get married, have a family, laugh with friends, read anything and everything but especially those things that will hit me hard. I have learnt a lot in two years, and not everything from a book. Like Hermione, I have learnt that friends are important, family, laughter, courage, being forward-thinking, taking risks even on things that are seemingly impossible (S.P.E.W.?!). My career is important, but it is only one of many things that are important and, when you realise that, the big C doesn’t seem so scary anymore.