The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Men...
*I think it's imperative that I thank my parents for their financial assistance ahead of this blog. They're the reason I'm able to think through my next move without worrying about my next meal. If you're in a similar position, I suggest you thank the people who are helping you and dedicate some of your time to serving the less fortunate. It is not always a matter of mindset. There is no silver lining to this crisis for many, many Americans.*
What do you do when a meticulously planned 22-year plan gets knocked off the rails by a global pandemic? I think it's a question that many postgrads are facing right now. We all heard about how hard it was to find good work after college. We were all told to network, take on internships for real-world experience, and tackle a whole host of other semi-concrete objectives in order to stand out above our peers. We were promised that those sacrifices would lead to good jobs in fun cities where we could kick-off adulthood in style. Now the time has come, and those of us lucky enough to have work have had their start dates pushed back and in-person offices closed. Others are forced to search for a job amid historically high rates of unemployment. To top it all off, we can't even commiserate together without the fear of prolonging a virus that's taken 150,000 American lives and counting! So again, what do you do? I'm not asking for a friend. I'm asking because I was just about to start year 17 of my 22-year plan before COVID delayed my Law School journey and left me directionless and unemployed.
My best solution has been to reframe. Despite the neverending onslaught of bad news (RIP College Football), I'm still in an okay position. I'm 22 with a college degree, a roof over my head, and NO KIDS. That's better than my parents were doing at this point in their lives! Also, the nice thing about having your life plan suddenly torched is that it gives you the freedom to write a new one. It's an opportunity to explore interests that you've ignored because they don't fit into your timeline; a chance to take stock of yourself and grow.
That doesn't mean it doesn't suck. Realizing that even the best-laid plans are powerless against larger outside forces is discouraging. But you have to get past that and begin to see this disruption as an opportunity. You're going to be behind schedule no matter what, you might as well have something to show for it.
How you choose to embrace this opportunity is up to you. Personally, I've been cooking more, writing more, and applying to jobs every day. It's frustrating and often tedious to adjust my resume and write a fresh cover letter for each listing I come across, but it's important. I'm applying for jobs that revolve around issues I care about such as student empowerment, youth advocacy, and elevating marginalized voices. If you're in the same position that I am, then I implore you to search for the intersections of your passions and your skills. That's where you'll grow as a person and a professional this year.
p.s. If someone asks you what you're doing this year before you get this all figured out... "My best" is a valid answer.