“So what’s next for you?”
That seems to be the question that people automatically ask when they find out that someone is graduating, ending a co-op work term, or approaching any other significant shift in their life. While often asked with excitement, implying optimism and anticipation of greater things to come, they don’t seem to understand the anxiety that one might feel when presented with this question.
While I seem to be speaking generally here, if you have read my previous posts you probably won’t be surprised to find that I am actually referring to my own experience. With plenty of practice, I have developed many sneaky strategies to avoid providing the answer to this question… because I don’t have it.
One particularly successful strategy I have developed consists of subtly changing the subject by talking about what I have learned from the experience, and how this has helped me understand what I want to do with my future. After thinking more about how and why I have used this strategy, I have come to realize that, while there is a certain value in looking to the future, we can’t forget to reflect and look back on what we have gained from our experiences.
The next time someone asks you that dreaded question of where you are going, tell them instead where you have been.
Instead of the answer they expect, I tell them that, during my work term, I was lucky enough to learn a great deal about how to build a community and how support and gratitude can flow through it. I was able to pass on the help provided to me by my coworkers and my supervisor to clients, who in turn were empowered to deal with their own situations and felt gratitude for the part I played in their success.
I learned from my coworkers about adapting to the demands of my new environment. And I would like to think that I passed some of this on to the students as well, who hopefully learned what is expected of them as learners and members of the University of Alberta community.
I tell them all about what I feel I have done well, what I have enjoyed and any vague ideas about how I might eventually make use of all this. Through this method, I have found that it is easy to break into much more interesting conversations.
Therefore, the next time someone asks you that dreaded question of where you are going, tell them instead where you have been. They will learn more about you and you might even learn something about yourself.
Student Voices is a WOA blog feature that presents the experiences and viewpoints of current Arts students. Through their posts, you’ll experience the creativity and passion of our students as they present glimpses into student life. The views and opinions expressed within these posts are solely those of the authors.