What to do when you don’t know what to do.
A common feeling we, as university students, endure is confusion. We are in a state of unsteadiness and insecurity. With our major, with our track, with our goals in life, and even with who we are; we constantly feel a need to be sure. How do we know that the goals and dreams we are chasing are first of all, attainable and second of all, truly what we want. The reality of the matter is, we don’t.
I come from a family who always seems to have their life together. My parents are hard workers who save, save, save and have the next 5 years of their lives thoroughly planned out. My sister was a straight A student and just recently graduated from University of Florida with her masters in occupational therapy (also already has the next 5 years of her life planned). Then there’s me, a messy little woman with big dreams and a constant need for excitement. I faced a lot of ups and downs throughout my college career and had to work 3 times harder than most, to right the wrongs I made as an incoming freshman. The only thing I’ve ever been sure of is my end goal: physical therapy. I decided I wanted to do this my junior year of high-school and since then, I had known there wasn't another path for me.
My university does not offer pre-physical therapy as a major, as many don’t, which made me really unsure when it came time to pick. As most of us know, advisors often confuse us more than help, and my #1 helper was off in Gainesville trying to accomplish her own goals and had very little knowledge of how to help me here at FIU. I finally decided I would settle with recreational therapy as a major. Now here I am, 4 years later, about 2 months away from graduating; taking a gap year before going into graduate school, receiving a job offer to work for a hospital as a recreation leader and yet I feel more lost than ever. Everyone who finds out I'm graduating looks at me like, “YOU’RE SO LUCKY”, “FINALLY DONE!”, but the truth is, school is almost all most of us have ever known. I’m not exactly sure if the scary part is taking a gap year and still possibly not getting into graduate school, or if it’s that the next year of my life could possibly be dedicated to a job that I am doing for money and title rather than joy.
So what does one do when they feel this way? Overwhelmed, unsure, confused and conflicted; none of these feelings can be resolved easily.
Some tips and tricks I use when my brain gets the best of me are:
Make a pros and cons list - When making a pros and cons list be very honest with yourself about the benefits a major or career path has, but also recognize when you try to justify the cons. For example “ the pay isn't that good.. But the atmosphere is amazing” probably means you already know what you want and you’re just afraid to take a leap.
Look at the big picture and do your research - Look at the big picture and DO YOUR RESEARCH!!!! Think about what you want in life and research what you can do or the steps it takes to get there. If you aren't sure what you want, research things you like and career paths that can come from that, make a list of your top choices.
Stop comparison - STOP! Everyone loves to look at someone else's life and say “ I should be doing that” “ they’re 23 and have their dream job im falling behind”, no you aren’t! This is clearly a big issue derived from social media because no one posts their downfalls along with their achievements. Everyone's life is different and unique, you cannot rush the things in life that are coming your way. There are also no benefits in comparing your life to others when you really don't know what they're up to behind closed doors.
Go with your gut - Trust yourself, getting advice and opinions from others can only help you so much. At the end of the day, you are the only one who can make this choice.
Take a break! Relax, unwind, and take time to do things you love.
Remember that it’s never too late to change your mind and start from scratch if things don't work out; nothing should stop you from achieving your dreams.