What’s next? Anything.

As I was filling out paperwork for an upcoming doctor’s appointment, I realized I was at a crossroads in my life. With many sections on the patient information form left blank, including “occupation,” “employer,” “school attending,” and “home address,” I felt a sense of panic at the uncertainty of my current state of being.

While this uncertainty is terrifying at first, it is more so incredibly exhilarating. At a point where I have no commitments or obligations, I can literally take my life in any direction I want. That’s absolutely freeing.

Recent graduates and twenty-somethings panic at the thought of the unknown. Our culture is accustomed to set milestones, and when things don’t follow a specific pattern, anxiety sets in. The sequence of events is supposed to be: go to a good school, get a good job, get married, have kids. No one is bound by this lifestyle, so why is there so much pressure to conform to it?

A shift in perspective needs to occur so individuals cease to be constrained by the monotonous expectations of society. For high school graduates, the next assumed step is attending college. There is a widely held misconception that this is the only way to ensure future success. Why aren’t there any other options? Our culture fails to even offer the option of taking a different path. In other countries, it is customary to take a year off to travel or work instead of immediately going to college. Why is this so uncommon in the U.S.? Travel, work, volunteer- there are so many options available besides immediately pursuing higher education.

I think people stick to this predetermined pattern in life because it seems safe, secure, and familiar. We need to be comfortable with uncertainty and open to taking risks. Instead of dreading graduation, embrace this newfound freedom. What comes next is entirely up to you.