by Steph Holton
Last summer at a large family gathering, I heard my recently-graduated cousin get asked the same two questions over and over again—what’s next? And do you have a job? And over and over again, I heard him give the increasingly uncomfortable answers—I’m still figuring it out, and no. I, however, had no desire to ask him either of these questions, mostly because the thought of them being directed at me filled me with an almost existential dread, and at the time I was still an entire year from graduation.
Now though, I’m only one term away from graduation, and the terror of interrogation is ever mounting.
I envy my classmates who have it all figured out—jobs they can keep after graduation, apartments they don’t have to move out of. But the reason I envy them is probably different than the ones you’d imagine. It’s not the stability factor. It’s that they’ll have an answer to give their families when they’re ask what’s next?
I’m at least a little bit okay with not knowing what’s next. As much as I’d like knowing I’ll have a stable income once those student loan payments kick in, I’m also kind of excited by the fact that I could be anywhere six months from now. But I still don’t want to be asked what’s next? I’m not going to have a satisfactory answer, and it’s only going to make us both feel bad. You can definitely ask what I’m excited for post-graduation, though.
One thought on “Don’t ask me what’s next”
Our daughter is age 40 now and I recall telling her and all of her friends that older people sometimes don’t have a good subject to talk about with high school and college age kids. Rather than just stare, we all know that we can ask about your plans. That seems polite to us because we are listening, sort of. My daughter was good at saying, “What were you planning when you were age 20?” People loved that. You might try it yourself.