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Why it’s okay not to have found your calling before graduation

graduation calling
Go at your own pace to discover what you were truly meant to do. Source: edella/Shutterstock.

Young people, and by default students in general, tend to be pretty hard on themselves.

Call it a millennial obsession with perfection or the ‘snowflake generation’ never being happy, but the uncertainty of what to do with your life grips us all.

‘Pick a career you love and you’ll never work a day in your life’, people would say. Or: ‘Do something that makes you want to get out of bed in the morning, which brings you joy, satisfaction, and fulfillment, which inspires you to be better and do better…’

It all sounds wonderful. But what if you just don’t know what would make you feel like that?

The truth of the matter is very few people really do know what they want to do with their life: ask a handful of adults who have been working for the last 10, 20, even 30 years and most would likely admit they still don’t know what their ‘calling’ is.

For some people, it changes as they evolve as a person. For a lucky few they have it ingrained from day one. Yet for many, they are simply unsure and may never find the elusive ‘calling’, instead just getting caught up in having “a job” and paying the bills. And that’s okay.

Naturally, we all strive to work in an occupation we love but for many that takes time, potentially a lot of time – so take it. You don’t have to have it all figured out at graduation: your life and career are just beginning.

Ease some of the pressure off yourself by accepting that things do take time. Don’t have unnecessary expectations of yourself to have achieved certain milestones by a certain age; grow at your own pace but most importantly, hold close to your beliefs and standards, and always, always strive to be the best version of yourself.

The important thing to remember is: you are in control. That may seem scary but you have the power to determine your future, to change the things you don’t like and work towards discovering the things you do.

Remember, no matter what you studied at university you are never stuck following a set career path: there is always opportunity to change. Even if you studied a career-specific course like veterinary science, you will have picked up endless skills at university you can use in numerous other jobs.

If you decide being a vet simply isn’t for you, explore other possibilities. You are likely to be the only veterinary graduate applying for that job in the natural science museum but that will make you stand out.

Think about the things in life which make you animated, that you are passionate about. You might not have a “calling” but there will certainly be things which bring you joy, and you can use these to understand yourself and potentially, as a result, your aspirations.

‘Can I make this into a career?’ Source: GIPHY.

Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to feel a certain way. It is very easy to compare yourself to the people around you and while everyone may look like they have it figured out, in reality, they are probably feeling a little unsure too.

Graduating is a wonderful time but it does bring with it a lot of change and with change comes a sense of uncertainty. Suddenly there are big decisions to be made: it’s overwhelming and, among sorting arrangements for the next chapter of your life, you may find yourself feeling more than a little lost.

If you want to stay in the overseas country you studied in, research how you can do that: what visa do you need and how do you obtain one? Look at jobs in the area both local to your UK university if you feel a strong tie to your adopted home.

If you want to move back to your home country, make your plans: will you move back in with your parents? Are there jobs which will match your skillset in your hometown?

You may even want to look at moving to a brand new country – you had an exciting experience moving overseas once, why not do it again?

If none of that sounds appealing, there is nothing stopping you from studying a new course or gaining a higher qualification… But avoid going back to university as a safety net if you are really unsure what you want to do in the future.

If you simply don’t know at all what makes you happy or what you want to do, then take a step back. Learn to appreciate the little things. Take joy in small moments and forgive yourself for not knowing – you are human after all.

Ultimately, only you can determine your own happiness.

Whether it feels like it or not, if there’s one thing you have: it’s time… so use it: make mistakes, work a job you never thought you would, learn to love the little things about it, let your dreams and ambitions keep changing but work hard at them.

And at the end of it all, you may look back on a muddled wobbly path to where you ended up: but you will be all the better for having walked it.

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