COLUMN: Stress during college shouldn’t be it’s facet

Joanna Williams

What are you going to do with your life? 

Oh, man. That question.

The biggest thing that worried me when I changed my major was whether I was going to get a job once I graduated. The economy was (and still is) poor and I had no clue what I would do with my life if all I could do was write at length about things like Epicurean theory of knowledge and perception acquisition once I graduated. 

I knew that my love for journalism was wavering, at best, and I knew that philosophy was something I would really enjoy. Still, Yahoo! had just published an article that morning saying my soon-to-be major had the distinction of being one of the most unemployable of 2010. 

I sat down and asked myself some hard questions: Do I take the risk of studying something I enjoy but possibly ending up on the poverty line five years from now? Do I graduate with a degree that I’m proud of but a job that pays me in dirty, copper pennies — not even the nice shiny ones? How am I supposed to afford that General Tso’s chicken I love so much?

In short, I began to freak out. 

Ultimately, I did change my major, and I am much more at ease about my decision, even though my future isn’t laid out on a pretty cobblestone road. 

Yet, for a lot of college students, they haven’t taken comfort in the unknown, and they spend way too much time stressing about it.

The thing that irks me the most about college is the fact that so many people in college (and outside of it) expect you to have your life planned out once you get here. Granted, there are a few lucky souls among us who are absolutely sure of what they’re going to do until the day they retire. (Kudos to you all. It’s nice, isn’t it?)

However, I can say confidently that the majority of people here at WKU and colleges across the country have no clue what they are going to do once they graduate. But we’re constantly told that we need to come up with something — and soon, because the “real world” isn’t too kind to indecisive people.

Even worse than the pressure to have a plan is that people fully believe this. And in turn, it causes unbelievable pressure and stress on the students part.  

Yet, these outside voices are completely wrong. Yes, this is an incredibly stressful time for all of us. We’re paying thousands of dollars each semester; we don’t know where we’re going to be living in the next five years, what we are going to be doing, and if we are going to be happy. Not to mention that test we have in the morning. So we all are under intense pressure — I would be out of touch with reality to say otherwise.

But I believe we should be as unsure as we want. If you don’t know what you’re going to do after college, then that’s fine. Although I don’t believe that “college is the best years of your life” mantra, I don’t think college should have anyone developing frown lines and severe anxiety. So don’t. Calm down. Find out whatever you enjoy doing and make the most of it. Use this time to try a few new things and step outside your comfort zone. Who knows — maybe that may lead you to discovering the career you were first worrying about.