I always credited myself for working hard, which I vow to never stop doing. However, I’ve come to realize after years of working hard in all of my schooling and extracurricular activities that it’s OK to not be “the first.”
I started school early, so I’ve always been the youngest to do X or Y. Recently, I graduated college a semester early, making me the first of my class to have to nervously enter the real world with nothing in my hands but internship experiences and some pieces of paper with my school’s seal on them.
“Congratulations on graduating early!” people would say. “It’s crazy how you have two degrees, and you’re only 20!” another said.
“Thank you so much for noticing. I really appreciate it,” I would say back with a forced close-toothed smile, attempting to singlehandedly fake humility and calmness, trying to hide that I was freaking out.
I honestly don’t know how well I faked it.
They say that college is the time where young people figure out who they are and who they want to be. You take classes you hate to figure out you actually don’t want to be a lawyer or accountant. You find true friends. You laugh, you cry, you play too much, you work too much.
It’s true, I did all of these things. Well, except the “finding out who I am thing.”
I know it sounds dramatic, but I feel like I have less direction than I have had in a long time. But I’m 100 percent OK with that.
All of my friends are graduating and getting jobs, putting them in the same boat with me that’s sailing into the real world. It’s hard.
I don’t know what I want to do after the job that I’m at now. I don’t know where I see myself in 10 years. And I don’t care.
It’s an amazing feeling to not be planning every facet of your life and working so hard just to get one step ahead. For now, I’ll continue to work hard, but not for the next step. Just for me. Your 20s is a time to learn how to put your head down and grind. Your 20s is also a time to learn how to be humble and to realize that it’s not all about you. It’s a great time to be a 21-year-old college graduate, and it’s an even better time to not know the next step.
I know that there will be a time soon where I’ll have people ask me the “next step” questions again.
“What are you doing next?” “Are you getting married soon? Do you think you’ll find someone?” “Are you ready to make a change? I think you need one.”
And what will I say?
“Thank you so much for noticing. I really appreciate it.”
For more of my opinions, career advice, freakouts and more, follow @Oliviawitherite.