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The first thing anyone asks me when they find out I am graduating this semester is, what are you going to do after? Do you know? And frankly, now that half the semester is over, it just puts on the pressure — reminding me of yet another thing on my to-do list.

These questions fill me with dread because, well, I don’t know exactly what I am going to do after or where I am specifically going job-wise. I have a couple ideas, but nothing set in stone or lined up.

What I do know is that I need to figure it out. And I want to do that on my own time, at my own pace. I have a general vision of where I want to end up, but that doesn’t just depend on me. In my case, the options I am weighing right now involve other people.

Everyone has their own unique situation, but people’s expectations tend to remain the same. When one graduates, people think he or she should be on their way or going somewhere. As for me, I will eventually, but I just don’t have enough time right now to dedicate to figuring that out until after I graduate.

So, please, hold your judgement.

I understand that people may ask without meaning any harm or purely out of curiosity, but still, they expect an answer. I felt like I had to explain myself, but I shouldn’t have to. Rather than that, I now am resigned to simply saying, “I don’t know.” I don’t want to be curt or anything, but having been asked over and over the same stressing questions, that is what works in moving the conversation along to something other than my future. Prescience or divine foreknowledge is something I don’t pretend to have.

I plan to have a straight answer to those questions eventually, but I do still have to graduate first — my priorities lie there right now. Perhaps a difference in perspective is to blame for my response. I am more focused on the present, what I have to do now to succeed currently that’ll set me up for success later. The future will come and I will take it on as it does. I will reach out more actively after graduating when I can dedicate as much time as I want toward doing so — without it negatively affecting my health. If I were to plan now, I probably wouldn’t adequately weigh my options and assess where I want to end up and start the next stage of my life.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for women 20 years and over is 3.6 percent. And although that might include me in a few months, being unemployed doesn’t mean we aren’t trying to change that or seeking employment.

I am keeping an eye out, but even when I do see job opportunities I am interested in, I can’t apply for them yet, so I just bookmark them to come back to when I can. When I apply for something, I want to do the best I can. That requires things like updating my resume, making connections and exploring housing options.

Committing to a career is not something I believe should be taken lightly or with minimal effort, especially if you want to stand out. I don’t want where I end up applying to take me lightly, so I shouldn’t treat the opportunity like that either.

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