By: Hannah Wagner
As a college student, it’s normal to be stressed, have ups and downs and concerns about where you will end up post graduation. You may start off freshman year thinking you know exactly what you want and how to achieve it, but then senior year rolls around and you aren’t sure if the original path you paved for yourself is still the right one. How do you overcome being unsure or uncomfortable in the point you’re at in life?
Personally, I’ve had many ups and downs throughout my college career and changed my path, hobbies and plans numerous times. My whole college experience has been filled discomfort. As graduation approaches in May, the pressure became stronger to nail down what I actually want to do with my life. After weeks of thinking and analyzing what is important to me and where my passion lies, I’ve been able to get a better understanding of what I want, and I want to share some advice and steps I took with other students to help them if they’re going through a similar situation.
It’s okay to be uncomfortable
When I started my college career, someone gave me the advice to “get comfortable being uncomfortable,” and that really stuck with me. You grow the most when you are out of your comfort zone, and just because things may not be going as you planned doesn’t mean you are as off track as you think. Learn to be okay with being uncomfortable, and take advantage of tackling the situation to grow as an individual
Write down your goals and values
One big thing I did when I was having what I’d like to call my “Quarter life crisis” is to write down my goals in life and things I valued. For example, I wrote down goals I’d like to accomplish by the time I was 25-30 and what values I wanted and, more importantly, didn’t want in a career/job opportunity. This really helped me narrow down what I cared about.
Find where your passion lies
In my opinion, everyone can learn how to do a job, but not everyone can grow a passion for it. No matter what it is you’re struggling with, you need to understand if you’re doing something just because it’s working or convenient for the moment, or if it’s something you’re passionate about. I’m not talking about quitting your part-time serving job that pays the bills because you don’t aspire to work in a restaurant. I mean if you’re actively participating in a student organization, full-time career opportunity or volunteering at a nonprofit because you think you have to but you dread going to it every time…stop! Focus on prioritizing what gets you excited, what you spend your free time learning about and what doesn’t feel mundane to you.
With that being said, sometimes you have to bite the bullet and finish out that internship you just can’t stand or lead a fundraising activity you may not have wanted to. Make sure to appreciate the experiences you have and learn something from them, while also growing and tailoring your next experience to be something you’ll enjoy more.
Network in areas you’re considering
Maybe you’re just completely lost and can’t figure out where to begin. The key to overcoming this is talking with others who are in areas that you enjoy! For example, if you’re undecided between going into sports or nonprofit PR, or staying local or moving out of state, talk to people who have been in your position before. Ask them how they tackled it and what challenges and rewards they faced along the way. This helps give you a better guide for expectations. Maybe you think Washington D.C. would be the best place to live, but a friend that just moved there hates the fast-paced life. This gives you an inside perspective on what to expect without having to make big decisions and realize it wasn’t what you thought when it may be too late. Use your network!
Side note: PRSSA Kent has a huge network of PR professionals that are around the country; utilize them to help you figure out your own life!
Don’t put others first
I’ve always struggled with feeling guilty about hurting others’ feelings, but as a young college student you really must prioritize yourself. Close relationships can play a huge role in your life and be a strong supporter, or opposer, of your life choices. For example, if you daydream about living in New York but your family doesn’t want you to move, don’t let that diminish your passion. If your significant other is staying local and you want to take your dream job in California, you should put yourself first. These decisions are hard and not as easy as it sounds, but you can’t let others make life choices for you - you must make them for yourself. I’m a firm believer in attempting to try something I feel strongly in and fail, than never trying at all. You can’t be afraid to fail; you are your own best friend and you know what’s best for yourself, so believe in your decisions and back them up with your goals and values.
Overall, getting through college and planning out your life is difficult. You will be confused, uncomfortable and stressed, but you will get there. Surround yourself with people that support you and you will make it, I promise!
If you’re going through an uncomfortable time, you can reach out to Hannah, Web and Social Media Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org for more advice or just to grab a cup of coffee and chat.