WHAT NEXT?

Rifa Deka

The pressure is real when you’re in your final semester of college. The question we all dread, ‘What next?’ happens to be the only thing haunting us when in actuality, that is the only question we’d like to dodge.

We’re at a place in life where we’re all adults but not adult enough to know what’s best for us. We’re adults who are so new to ‘adulting’ that we wish we could go back in time, land in high school and get another shot at everything we think we’ve messed up along the way. We recollect all those times we were told by our parents that all we have to do is study and that we have no other responsibility in life. We now understand what it is like to run a family, maintain a house, we understand how much pain is taken by our guardians to bring the food to our plates that we never thought twice before throwing in the trash just because we once thought it wasn’t appetizing enough! There was so much we took for granted back then and we wish we understood why we were told to do or not to do certain things by ‘Adults’.

Although I started this piece in a remorseful way, I assure you, this is not a rant where I lament about what we should have or shouldn’t have done in our teenage years. I’m pouring my heart out to let all those young adults know that it’s okay to feel pressurized, it’s okay to feel like everything is falling apart, and it’s alright to not know what the future holds. Having no regrets and forgiving ourselves for all those mistakes we’ve made is the key to stop ourselves from over thinking and falling into manic depression.

Things get difficult, especially when you’re in your final months of your Master’s Degree Programme because you’re always aware that you soon bid farewell to your student life. It is that one phase of lives we wish never got over. The classes we bunked, the ugly fights, the disagreement with our professors, the cafeteria food, the college fests, and the friends we made along the way, don’t we wish we could hold on to everything just for a little bit longer? Just till we think we’ve had enough of it? But again, will we ever have had enough of it?

Some of us are worried about getting a good job in our respective fields of interest while some others have families to support financially. Some of us want to get back to academics, get a PhD or maybe do just one more certification course from somewhere to specialize in something. There’s so much going on that we’re drained, both physically and mentally. Apart from all this, there is this fear of not doing ‘well enough’ or not being able to fulfill the expectations of our loved ones. Let’s not even get to the part where we have dissertation research to work on, assignments to submit, deadlines to meet and final exams to study for.

Where will we land a few years from now? Nobody really knows. I wanted to be a Pilot at the age of 5, a Cardiologist at age 7, a Poet at 10, a Lawyer at 12, a Writer at 14 and a Chartered Accountant at 16! Here I am, 23 years old, pursuing my Masters in Journalism and Mass Communication after having done my Bachelors in Commerce and I am absolutely clueless about where this it will lead me this time!

Is it frightening? Yes! It is so frightening that at times we just want to lock ourselves in a room, shove our heads inside a pillow and scream.

Remember the time we were preparing for our Class X / XII Board Exams? Well, guess what? Most of us passed with flying colours. About that time we were preparing for entrance exams, some of us made it and some of us didn’t but not one of us gave up. Each such milestone in our lives gave us the strength to face the next with twice the courage and twice the determination. Even when we failed sometimes and it felt like the end of the world, we got back up on our feet. We learnt what we were made for through a series of trial and errors.

I know that right now, some of us are counting on placement cells of our universities for good opportunities while some of us are slogging real hard to build impressive portfolios and CVs for our future employers. Some of us have dreams of a Start Up, while some of us look forward to join the family business. Do we really know what’s next? Perhaps we don’t and perhaps we don’t have to have it all figured out immediately.

The 20s are similar to that one roller coaster ride. We’re all terrified of getting into it; might even just throw up a little bit as our head spins or yell at the operator to make the damn thing stop, but one thing’s for sure that when the ride stops and when we get off of it, we’ll pat each other on the back for having successfully made it out alive and thriving.

We’ll look back, laugh at it and tell ourselves– “What a hell of a ride!”