What am I going to do after graduating college?
Throughout this past year, this sentence has crossed my mind at least three times a day. My classmates ask me, my friends ask me, my family asks me. It’s turned into a haunting question.
When people ask me my five-year plan, I find myself thinking of an older, successful version of myself, but verbally saying, “Umm… Well…”, because if life has taught me anything throughout my four years in college, it’s that our time on earth is anything but predictable.
However, after being asked this question multiple times, whether by peers or in an interview, I have taken it to heart, wondering, where do I want to be five years from now? Ten years from now? And most pressing, a year from now?
I turned twenty-two on April 13th, 2017. It was one of the most surreal birthdays I have ever had. I woke up to the news that I got rejected from a job that I was fairly confident I would land, and I proceeded to apply for jobs well into the better part of the morning. This is twenty-two, huh? I did a quick workout in mid-morning, and after the workout, I found myself sitting on my bedroom floor in my apartment, thinking seriously, “Where will I be on my twenty-third birthday?”. It has always been an easy question to answer; I have always known that the following year I would be in school, most likely preparing to take the next batch of final exams.
But this year was different. This year, I sat there and considered, where will I be? And I realized, for the first time in my life, I really have no answer.
Let’s back up a little so I can explain a few things. In January, after much consideration, I decided that I would settle down in Atlanta after graduation. I would get a cool marketing job and live with one of my past roommates from my time at North Georgia. I was really looking forward to all of this. I was considering getting a dog, trying to decide which Atlanta neighborhood I wanted to live in, and thinking about all of the fun times I will continue having and the good food I will continue eating in the city that stole my heart two years ago.
I was going to countless interviews, and almost obsessively applying to jobs. I became so obsessed with the idea that I needed a job after graduation, that I needed a cool Atlanta apartment, and that I needed to settle down and start making money immediately.
I met up with one of my mentors in February over coffee. We talked about the job market, and she asked me countless questions to get to the bottom of my passions. I explained to her what I really craved was travel. I later explained that it is so irrational for me to think that way. Of course I need to get a job right after graduation and settle down in Atlanta. A few weeks later, she sent me an email with some of the best advice I have ever received. The words have repeated in my head continuously since, notably every time I walk out of the doors of my numerous job interviews.
Have your adventure, Chelsea.
I was in class one day a few months later. My Facebook memories popped up as a notification on my phone. I clicked on the notification, anticipating whatever bizarre post I made on Facebook five years ago. However, this post was different. This post changed the course of my post-college life.
Exactly six years ago, on April 17th, 2012, I was dreaming of traveling the world. I remember typing this status out. I was sitting in one of the various parking lots of my high school. It was early, I was exhausted, and I was so tired of the same faces that I had seen every day since kindergarten. I was sitting in my first car, my cherished white Chevy Cobalt. I wanted to travel the world. I couldn’t though. I had to finish high school. After high school, I had to finish college. College is over now. What next?
I am going to move to Prague in the Czech Republic to earn my TEFL Certification through an extremely accredited school called TEFL Worldwide Prague and then go on to teach English beginning in August. I am hoping to stay there for two years, but I am willing to see where the wind takes me.
I am not a hugely spiritual person, but I do believe there are powers in the universe that lead us places. I took that Facebook post, something so minuscule, as a sign. Five years ago, I wanted this so bad. Since as early as I can remember, I have wanted, or rather needed, to see the world. I have never been completely content with my surroundings. I have always wanted more.
There is nothing in me that wants to jump out of college and immediately settle down into the 9-5 life. After speaking to so many of my peers, I realized that no one does. But they do. They will. Those dreams they had as seventeen-year-olds will escape into old age. They will have it in their minds that moving abroad is a crazy idea, that it’s for other people, but not themselves. There is nothing wrong with settling down after college, and really, I was all for it, and to this day I still very much see the appeal. For some, landing a dream job after college in their favorite city is what they want. I love that. I respect it so much.
However, I have always kept the mantra close to my heart that I want to feel everything. One thing I have realized in the past year through differing relationships, moving to D.C., moving back to Atlanta, and finishing college is that discomfort is what moves me, discomfort is what I need most in my life to keep me growing and evolving.
I am ready for this next adventure. I am sure moving to a country I have never been to before, by myself, to teach English and travel through Europe will not always be comfortable. However, I know it will change me and help me transition into the life I want when I am ready to settle down.
If you ever question whether or not you should see the world, or you should do something, anything, that is daring and scary, yet so attractive to you, please do it. Life is so short. You need whatever it is, you need it for the older you down the road, the one who proudly says, “I moved to Europe on a whim after graduating college, it was the best decision I ever made.”
Have your adventure.