The Graduation Myth: Why It’s Okay Not to Have It All Figured Out

How I Overcame Career FOMO in My 20s

After my graduation I thought I had to have everything figured out:

  • I’m a grown-up now
  • I’m starting to work a job I will have for more than 40 years
  • I finished my education
  • I know what I want

I was totally wrong. 

I started working and after a few months or a year, I got sad. It was not depression or burn-out, it was just me being frustrated with life and work.

I’m exchanging my precious time for money I didn’t know how to spend, and for work that is not fulfilling or will ever make a difference.

I had a quarter-life crisis.

Society tells you to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life before starting to study.

You are 17/18/19 and you are still a teenager, and they think you know what you want to do?

Most of us don’t. 

But the great thing about today’s life is: you can change professions easier than ever, and there are so many options out there.

10 years later I can tell you now: don’t pressure yourself to find THE passion or THE work you want to do for the rest of your life.

You will not.

Because life is changing. You will change. 

“Never too old, never too bad, never too late, never too sick to start from scratch once again.” 

— Bikram Choudhury

Take the Risk of Change if You Don’t Like It

If you don’t like what you are doing, don’t be afraid to change professions.

At any age.

Don’t ever think that your age is an excuse for making a change. It never is.

I started to study something completely different again at 23. It took me months to make that decision because I thought I was too old to change my life.

You are never too old to change professions. 

If something doesn’t make you happy anymore or even depresses you then take the risk to change.

However, one thought first: don’t cancel after a month at work. The first few months are usually to get used to the company, to the tasks, and to the people. Don’t expect to get your dream tasks immediately after starting. 

  • Try out different things
  • Stay with the same company but change tasks
  • Make small changes at your current job 

And you will feel if you still like it before changing your profession completely.

My part-time job next to my studies didn’t make me happy, and it was in the same profession I want to work in the future. But it was not because of the work itself, but the people, the money, and the fact that I had to exchange time for money.

I’m sure that I want to stay in that profession, but I’m now working on the side on online income so that I don’t have to exchange my time for money anymore.

You can do it too. 

You shouldn’t go all in and change your whole life, especially if you have people relying on you. But do small changes and try out new things.

“The biggest risk is not taking any risk… in a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” 

— Mark Zuckerberg

Take the Risk So You Won’t Regret It Later

Go out of your comfort zone. 

Do you think you are going to regret not doing it now?

I know regret is a sh*tty feeling. Especially for things you cannot change.

Don’t let that happen to you.

If you are unhappy where you are: don’t stay!

Don’t get held back by other people!

They think they want the best for you, but you are the one who has to live with the regret.

If they love you, they will love you also after you take the risk.

Taking a risk now is better than regretting it later.

Even though I had friends in my hometown, I had to leave, find myself, and experience the whole world.

In the end, it is only you who has to live with yourself.

Life is Change: Not Just Right After Graduation

Taking risks and making changes is normal. You have to do them to become the best version of yourself. To move forward.

I know it’s not always easy. Leaving relationships or friendships behind.

It’s the same with jobs. Some jobs are not meant to be part of your future life.

If you want to improve, to become better and successful, then you have to let go and change.

And you are never too old to change. This is just an excuse in your mind.

There are stories about people finding their passion in their 80s.

It’s never too late.

In the End: Everything Will Work Itself Out

I believe that the universe (or god) has a plan for all of us, and you are always at the right place at the right time.

Therefore, you shouldn’t stress yourself having everything figured out after university. You don’t.

  • You will grow
  • You will improve
  • You will change
  • You will experience life
  • You will have ups and downs
  • You will fail
  • You will get opportunities

Don’t worry about figuring out the perfect profession or your passion immediately. Try out new things and you will figure it out along the way.

If something doesn’t work for you, don’t hesitate to take the risk and start something new.

And one important tip at the end: don’t listen to other people if they are not where you want to be in the future.

They are the ones who haven’t figured it out either and are just jealous that you want to take the risk to start something new.

“Someday, everything will make perfect sense. So for now, laugh at the confusion, smile through the tears, be strong and keep reminding yourself that everything happens for a reason.” 

— John Mayer

How I was able to study, part-time work and lead a student organization at the same time and you can too:

Get your free copy of my tips about how to boost your productivity!

(c) Karina Ahrer

Get daily insights, motivation and inspiration:

If you are as addicted as I am to reading books, then check out my list of favorite books and your free Audible month!

Do you live in Austria, Germany, or Switzerland?

You get 60 days of audiobooks for free on BookBeat! A lot of the books from my recommendation list are included!

BookBeat mehr Zeit für Hörbücher