Students are asked what they’re going to do with their lives far too often
Many students start their first year of university with the expectation that everything will go smoothly, and that their major will leave them with the tools they need to find a career after graduation.
As students, we often think that our degree is binding—that the years we spend at university are going to define our future. Even more often, students face external pressure to have their whole life figured out. Whether it comes from family members, friends, or professors, as a second-year student, I’m tired of being asked about my future.
Students should be ready to embrace that their life path and future plans will most likely change over time. As millennials, we can’t expect to stay in the same job or even the same field for 40 years, like former generations have done. According to a study by LinkedIn, the number of companies students worked for in the five-year period after their graduation has nearly doubled. Further, CNN Money reports that young millennials are likely to have approximately four career changes by the time they are 32.
People are switching jobs more than ever before. According to a survey of Canadians conducted in 2014 by Workopolis, 48 percent of those polled said they had three or more separate career paths. Further, it was found that more than half of those polled said they had the same job for less than two years, while 30 percent said they had the same job for more than four years.
Asking students what they plan to do with their future is the wrong question. It’s the wrong question because it doesn’t leave space for growth, change, and personal development. It doesn’t take into consideration that their future job might not even exist yet. A few years ago, students weren’t hoping to become social media strategist’s or work for Buzzfeed.
In fact, new jobs for university graduates are being created all the time. According to the Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, close to 1.5 million new jobs were created for university graduates between March 2008 and March 2016. There are so many opportunities to look forward to, yet the fear of the future and the unknown is a pressure that causes students to limit themselves.
I have ambitions, aspirations, and hopes for my future. But I also know that they might change. And if they do, I don’t want to be criticised or questioned about what I’m doing with my life. I don’t desire to be restricted by a societal construct that tells me I should stick to having a steady career, a marriage or long-term relationship, and creating a family.
My peers and I have a lot to contribute to society. Our generation should be bold and tackle our fear of the future by aspiring to do and be whatever we want. We should have the capability to change our future at any moment in time.
We often have a fear of uncertainty and we need to start embracing it—if we don’t we’ll never reach for something out of our comfort zones. It’s the only way for us to garner the courage to take a chance and try something different. Allowing ourselves to embrace uncertainty is the next step to becoming more flexible, which causes us to take advantage of new opportunities. The workplace is changing more rapidly, which makes this more important than ever before.
I don’t want to be asked about my future because I’m tired of explaining to people that I won’t know exactly where I’m going until I get there. I don’t want to explain my future plans to someone because I know that the question cannot be answered. The question is self-limiting because of my inability to convey a lifetime of choices with one answer.
As author Rick Riordan said, “knowing too much of your future is never a good thing.”