This question must be answered by everyone at some point in their life. You may be in high school and graduation is a year away and you still dont know what you want to do or where you want to go to college (if you even want to go to college). Every time you see an adult they will ask you-
So where are you going to college? What do you want to do when you get there?
Blah blah blah. All this time your stress level is rising because you dont have “the perfect answer”
You know what the perfect answer is in our society? It goes something like this-
“Well Mr. So-and-So, I am going to the (Insert prestigious University) where I will major in (Insert impressive sounding Major)and go on to (Insert impressive sounding Grad Program) and come out and join the work force as a successful (Insert Title Here). I will meet my wife during this time and have 2.5 children and live the happiest life anyone has ever lived.”
Or maybe youre in college and you have settled into your major and graduation is staring you in the face (as is the case with me). You naively believe that you have escaped the What’s Next question. But you quickly realize that as graduation approaches, that same
Mr. So-and-So wants to know what your plans are.
They will ask questions like this-
Oh so you are majoring in (Insert slightly less impressive Major), so what can you do with that degree? What are your plans? Got any jobs lined up? Do you enjoy it? Considering Grad School? Blah blah blah.
Once again, your stress level is rising because you know in your heart and mind that you are not certain what your plans are. You dont have “the perfect answer”. So, you give them the socially acceptable answer which goes something like this.
“Well Mr. So-and-So, I am not quite sure right now. I have some ideas that I am exploring. I have considered grad school at (insert impressive sounding University) or maybe trying to find a job in my field. I am just taking my time now to evaluate my options.” (Which is a euphemism for “I really have no clue what I am going to do”)
You breathe a huge sigh of relief when they accept your answer and move on.
Time goes on and you find a job (hopefully), grow up and get married. Not too long after that, a child is on the way and you find yourself wondering, What’s Next? You are responsible for a spouse and a baby, and you feel totally unprepared for the job. (Note- every parent i have ever talked to has said they never felt ready to be a parent, it really is on the job training)
You are a new parent and full of joy, when all of the sudden Mr. So-and-So comes around. You think to yourself “Great. Not Mr. So-and-So again, this guy always asks me the same thing”
Sure enough, Mr. So-and-So comes after you like a killer whale chasing a baby seal.
Congratulations on the baby!
What are your plans? How many kids are you gonna have? Are you going to put them in public or private school? Hows work going? Are yall going to move?
Once again, you are stressed. At this point, your reply is so well refined that Mr. So-and-So leaves completely satisfied with your answer.
“Thanks Mr. So-and-So! We are excited about the baby. Work is going well, any better and I wouldnt know what to do with myself (insert fake hearty laughter)!!!
Wife is great, life is great. Thanks!”
Years go by quickly and your children have grown up and moved away. You grow old with your spouse and one of you will outlive the other one. You find yourself growing old and weary, and you know that death is approaching.
Now, the question What’s Next is not being asked by Mr. So-and-So, it is being asked by you. “Where do I go when I die? What happens? Is there life after this? What’s Next?”
(Stay tuned for Part 2)