I have been out of high school for five years now, and lately I have been reflecting on my life post-high school, and I have realized that it is not how I thought it was going to be. Not even close. I thought that by now I was going to have a great job, be living on my own, have a college degree, and possibly settling down with someone. Although I daydreamed that this is how fantastic my life was going to be at the time of graduation, my reality is I still live at home with my parents, I can hardly even find a part-time job, I switched my major a few too many times so I am currently on the seven-year college graduate plan, and my relationship with my boyfriend of three years ended two months ago.
Did I just set myself up for disappointment from the start or am I ever going to get on course?
Dear Misinformed Daydreamer,
Your concerns are completely normal. I think everyone does the “where do I see myself in five or 10 years” goal setting plan upon leaving high school and entering the college and real world. In fact, you are probably going to do more five- or 10-year goal setting plans as you grow older. But because you seem new to this, let me explain how life usually works.
In life you can make plans all you want, but sometimes life has something different in store for you. You could be traveling down a path for years and years, only to one day realize that you may not want to continue on that particular path. Whether you like it or not, life may just throw a new path at you, something that you may never have ever expected. Or when you decide to wait to have a family until you are a certain age, sometimes life will make you fall in love a little earlier than you had planned or maybe even a little later. In your case, you started college going after one major, but later switched to a few others. But you know what? That is OK.
There is nothing wrong with changing your mind and changing your course. In life you seldom stay on the same course your entire life. A good rule of thumb though is to plan to be surprised. In other words, go after your goals and dreams but at the same time be open-minded to curve balls that might be thrown your way. This way, if you keep an open mind, when these curve balls do arise, you will be better prepared to rise above the challenge to overcome them and continue on whichever path you choose to continue on. In your case, continue going for your major in college and if you change your mind again, do so until you feel confident in whatever major your heart desires to accomplish. Trust me, you are not the only one out there who has ever changed their major while attending college (I believe I changed mine at least four times while I was working on my undergraduate degree).
You also need to consider the economy you graduated high school in. If you graduated five years ago, then you should be part of Class of 2007/2008. Well those were the two years where our economy started crashing so that presented an automatic curve ball for you and many of your classmates. I am sure that if you still keep in contact with your former classmates, that you are not the only person who is having difficulties finding a job right now. Anybody who has a job right now, whether they are 23 or 43, is very fortunate. Just work on the things you can control such as applying for jobs, and don’t worry about the things you can’t control such as competing with others who do have a bachelor’s degree already, etc. Give yourself some credit, because soon you will have your bachelor’s degree. Just keep working on it and you will get there. Following that then you will be able to afford your own place one day. You don’t want to just get your own place because you want your independence if you are not financially ready to. Wait until you are ready and take advantage of the fact that you are still living at home. If you are not paying rent, you can save the little money that you do have, which will add up, and you can put towards your new place. You can also ask your mom and dad tips about how to take care of a house, cook, clean, etc., so when you move out you will already know how to do all of that.
In life, just remember to be open-minded and that it’s OK to make and change plans, but remember to acknowledge that new plans will arise when you least expect it.
Ahwatukee Foothills resident Michelle “Mikey” Arana is a 2003 graduate of Mountain Pointe High School. She offers free peer advice, however, Mikey is not licensed or trained, just a fellow friend to the community. All inquiries made to Mikey will remain anonymous unless legal issues occur. She can be reached at www.myaskmikey.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.