Career future is uncertain for seniors

Facts of Life

I always doubt myself. No matter if it's coordinating an outfit, writing this column or going for a run, there's always a part of me that points out what's wrong, what's missing. Even going into my senior year at AU has me worried. With the state of the economy, it's hard to picture landing a job post-graduation with great pay and finding an affordable place to live.

Those things alone, however, are not what has me running for safety. The sheer terror of knowing that once I receive my diploma I'll be considered an adult (or a tax-paying citizen, respectively) has me panicking. I am not in this state of urgency alone. This semi-submerged ship we call our future has taken quite a few under already, but the one thing that I can boast about having are a few human life preservers keeping me afloat.

Whether they are professors, editors, managers or friends, they all have taken an interest in my future and they predict success. This always comes as a shock to me. Under my guise of self-doubt I am aware that mostly everything I do at this point in my life is helping me achieve a goal or will benefit me personally or in obtaining a career. This does not, however, mean that I see the big picture that others see.

Despite what people may think, I have no surefire plan to success, nor am I on a 10-year track to taking over GQ (though that would be nice). You would think I would try to assemble some outline of the next five or ten years of my life to take the edge off of graduation and the unsure future, but to be honest that makes me just as uneasy.

What does ease the transition is the presence of people like those I mentioned that keep me grounded and levelheaded. The constant constructive criticism of my work, the motivational speeches to get me through a tough spell, and the extended friendship and life lessons passed on to save me time in my pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of paychecks are all vital--but taken with a grain of salt all the same.

For me, these wonderful people that genuinely want to see me succeed and help me focus my ideas and attain my goals are put on a pedestal higher than the one I hold for Burberry. Yet being the skeptic that I am, I've always wondered what motivates people to go that extra mile, to lend a hand to someone they don't know. What does this do for them? Is there some sort of satisfaction in helping someone realize their dreams, or are they more so setting us up for a fall? And what happens when we're presented with the same situation? Will we help out the recent college graduate by giving them their first job or will we turn our backs? It seems to all come down to the question of, in terms of our career, when do we know when someone's a friend or a foe?

In truth, we've all run into our fare share of people with good intentions and those whose good intentions serve themselves more than help you. It has taken a while to spot those people, but after years of abuse from the cruel world and its minions, I can recognize a shyster as easy as spotting a fake Louis Vuitton bag.

The trick to it is that when it comes to your career and reaching a certain goal in life, there's little choice in trusting those offering a helping hand. Now, of course, one must learn from prior mistakes in order to have this work in your favor, but in the long run, you would have gained more than lost. You not only would have weeded out the few who want to see you fall, but you also obtained incredible knowledge and know to watch out for those kind of people the second time around.

To be quiet honest, though I look to others to help me with situations or to give me some advice. The bottom line is that at the end of the day, the strength to go on comes from within. It's so easy to quit even when the crowd is behind you cheering you on, but that will only happen when you don't believe in yourself.

I've been discouraged before and every time it's a new life lesson learned. If I've gotten this far, it's by more than just the skin of my teeth. It come from good people, a little bit of good luck, and more so, myself. Because even though there may be a part of me telling me that I can't do something, there's always something driving me forward and telling me not to stop.

Call it what you want, but I'll call it what it really is: The sheer desire to prove people wrong. For all those that believe you're never going to make it, that you're not going to get a descent job or you're going to struggle for the rest of your life, think of them when you want to quit. They may start out as a deterrent but in the end they'll be feeding your determination to win and eating your dust as you cross the finish line to a successful future.

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