This simple inquiry felt to me like an interrogation, carrying an indescribable weight and leaving a sour taste in my mouth. And the next question, about what I wanted to do after graduation, was even worse.
The truth was, I had virtually no idea what I wanted to do with my life, let alone what major I intended to declare. Anytime I thought I had it figured out, I abruptly changed my mind and started back at square one.
So that’s how I ended up at the University of Virginia’s Career Center, which has been an immense help in channeling my career anxiety into productive action.
It’s also where I found out my anxiety about my future isn’t unique. There is a host of unknowns about the future job market, and it is easy to get spun up by what’s in the news. Some reports declare this is a pretty good market for graduates, while other stories say the opposite.
But here I am worrying about a career when I’m still unsettled on a major.
I’ve been told college is the time to learn about myself and to develop my passions. I know it’s not uncommon for students like me in the College of Arts & Sciences to arrive in Charlottesville without an intended major in mind.
But in a competitive environment like UVA, with thousands of bright minds in one place, I felt the pressure to stand out – to seem sophisticated. I wanted to have my entire future planned out in front of me, ready to share at any moment.
As a naturally anxious person, making life-altering decisions like selecting a major can sometimes feel debilitating. I often find that the pressure to simply “know” what I want to do with my life hinders my ability to discover my passions.
Additionally, if the pandemic taught me anything, it’s that the entire world can change overnight, and I must be prepared for the worst. Even if the job market is stable now, there is no telling what the future will hold.
At the Career Center, they’ve heard all this worry before.