Emerging from the education machine after so many years can be a disorientating experience for many recent graduates. Many are at a loss what to do next and simply do what they think is the next rung on the ladder – getting a job. How to decide what you want to do with your life, is not a topic that is covered in any of your lectures or seminars. The careers department may occasionally offer “workshops” on how to write a CV or how to get through test centres. Other than that, you are by enlarge left to decide your own path. If you have liberal parents the choice is even wider as they ‘want to support you in whatever you choose’. Right.
This freedom, unimaginable for most previous generations, is both a blessing and a curse. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying freedom is bad, I am very grateful to have this problem, but the level of choice available to us can leave us wondering what we ‘should do’ with our lives. A first world problem if ever there was one! The level of choice causes us to freeze and we struggle with indecision, this is the Paradox of Choice that Barry Schwartz describes in this TED talk.
It is all too easy to see our options narrowed and feel like we must get the best paying job with the most prestigious firm we can, in some ‘safe’ profession. Others common paths include travelling in order to ‘find myself’ or plunging desperately back into the safety of academia by taking a masters/PDH.
Anyway, I recently stumbled across a letter written by Hunter S Thompson who was asked for advice by a friend When he wrote the letter in 1958, he was 22. For those of you who, like me, are struggling to find your way in the world, it is definitely worth a read in it’s entirety, which you can do here. I leave you with this quote taken from the letter;