Adultolescence: post-grad reimagined

by Beacon Staff • April 21, 2011

Sara Prescott, Beacon Contributor 

I am inundated with instructors, parents, professionals, and even friends, all asking the same question: “What are you doing after graduation?” And the answer seems to feel more hopeless with each iteration: I’m looking into my options; I’m taking a break before job-hunting; I’m going to find yet another internship.

Let’s face it—I don’t know. But after a few breakdowns and countless heart-to-heart talks with the people closest to me, I see the impending liminal period as an interlude in my life to capitalize on unique opportunities.

Some of us are graduating, excuse me, commencing — from Emerson in a matter of weeks. We’re no longer teenagers, but not yet adults. We’re entering into this new stage in life: adultolescence.

Along with myself, I believe a majority of our generation has embraced a new transitional period of life. After graduation, a student used to immediately shift to a full-time job and begin adulthood, but the emphasis on securing a career after walking off the commencement stage has dissipated.

For generations past, entrance into the “real” world signified settling down, building the beginning foundations which would last you until retirement. Today, it’s not uncommon for a college graduate to hop between seven or eight jobs among three or four metro areas before devoting him or herself to a particular city, job, or spouse. The next four years stand a chance to be more uprooting than our previous four.

For some, this transience is purgatory, while others find solace in this period. Countless conversations with fellow graduates seem to echo my thoughts. Many feel entitled to a fulfilling career right out of school and do not want to concede to any ordinary position, while some of my friends are actively trying to avoid the “real” world because they feel unprepared. I can’t help but feel the latter has become a trend — none of us are ready to assert what we want to do after graduation for fear of being pigeonholed.

As a graduating senior, I have had my own issues with this transitional period. I used to let it control every decision; every thought process was dedicated to the end product. The end product in my mind was finding a job, any job. I became a master at second-guessing my own decisions and changed career prospects every day.

Now with graduation less than a month away, I have completely changed my mindset. I was exhausted with thinking about the future. Constantly ruminating about it established unfair expectations, and left nothing but inevitable failure.

Upon realizing how miserable I was making myself, I decided to make some drastic alterations to my plan. I will leave my bubble in Boston and move to Washington, D.C. I may not have a position secured there, but that no longer has precedence.

While I am still relatively young, I want to dedicate my time to improving the lives of minority groups because I feel as if I have been selfish with my life for the past 22 years. Instead of placing importance in job security, I would rather have my new experiences educate me in ways that a class never could.

There has been this pressure since we were accepted to Emerson to know what our future will look like. This is nearly an impossible expectation to fulfill since so many of us change our minds countless times regarding career paths, even just within one semester.

Rather than let the daunting question of “What are you doing after graduation?” make us feel hopeless, students should embrace the “adultolescence” transitional period in order to chose the right path for their own futures.