OK, so you're heading to college this fall, eager to drench your liver in a rainbow of different flavored bottles of Burnett's. You're planning on taking coursework on intersectional feminist theory, getting stoned between classes, and saving your psychedelics for the weekends. You're young, free, and still have that glimmer of hope in your eye. But in the back of your mind is that nagging question that gnaws at you — "What the fuck am I doing with my life?"
The good news is nobody really knows what they're doing with their lives, even long after college. But fear not, post-grad life isn't all doom and gloom. And if you plan it right, it can be a hell of a lot of fun, too.
Pick a field of study you can actually get a job in
Sorry liberal arts nerds, but your degrees are hardly fit to wipe your ass with. Even though it might be mentally stimulating to discuss the merits (or lack thereof) of Nietzsche, the only thing that a philosophy degree is likely going to do is get you tens of thousands of dollars in debt and an assistant manager job at a retail store. Instead, pick a field of study that gives you real-life, tangible skills. Maybe that means computer science, maybe that means human resources, or maybe even going to a vocational school to learn a trade. Don't slide into debt for a degree that has no clear career path.
You're young, so don't be afraid to hustle
Alright, I know that you're not going to listen to me and will still decide to get a degree in Peace & Conflict Studies anyway, so you're going to need to be creative and proactive in your career quest. There's an unfortunate myth floating around that as soon as you graduate from college you're going to get a cool job that pays your bills and transports you to your dream city. I'm sorry to report that for most of us, this is just that — a dream. The reality is you're going to apply to dozens of jobs and get no response. You're probably going to be broke AF for a while, and you're really going to question whether you're on the right path.
And the answer is yes, you are.
Your early 20s suck. Anyone who says otherwise is either lying or has a massive trust fund to fall back on. But for those of us who are self-sufficient, leaving college is when the real work begins. That doesn't mean that you have to set your dreams on the shelf, however. Instead, post-college is the perfect time to work your ass off. You'll have a grace period for paying off your student loans, you hopefully won't have accrued too much credit card debt yet, and you're likely not paying a mortgage. So suck it up, get a job waiting tables in a restaurant so you can get an internship or volunteer at the gig that is your dream job. Because in reality, "cool jobs" rarely put out job postings — they hire within. So be prepared to hustle for free and demonstrate that you've got the grit to make things happen.
Realize that no matter what, the grass is always greener
At a certain point, the dust from your college years settles and you're left with a life that, perhaps, isn't quite what you dreamed of for yourself. Maybe you got the cozy desk job with salary and benefits, but can't help daydreaming of backpacking through Europe. Or maybe you've WOOF'd across Australia and really long to settle down. No matter where you are, that restless feeling of not being enough, or not doing enough, is normal. You are where you're supposed to be, where you're meant to be, right now. When you finally do achieve your goals, whatever they may be, you won't look back and think, "Wow, I really wish this had happened sooner." You'll be stronger for overcoming adversity and will be grateful for the new opportunities that come your way.
So chin up, kid, you'll get there. Just make sure you take it easy on the booze.
From the 2018 College Guide.Stay on top of Detroit news and views. Sign up for our weekly issue newsletter delivered each Wednesday.