College: To Go or Not To Go?
You’ve graduated from high school and it’s time for your first big life decision (which is really a combination of many decisions.) Will you go to college? What will you study? Where will you live? Who will you live with? Will you work while completing your studies? And if you decide not to go on to college right away, or ever for that matter, what happens next? Where do you work? What type of job do you want? Will you complete a different training program? Where will you live? Who will you live with? This time of life can cause significant anxiety for many young women.
More than likely, you’ve heard the age-old question asked by adults of even small children: What do you want to be when you grow up? Typically, adults are asking what occupation we want to pursue as adults. But what those in their early 20s need to think about is not what they want to DO, but who they want to BE.
The truth is, regardless of the pressures from our families, friends, cultures, and societal expectations, the decision to go or not to go to college is really about what you want to experience next for yourself. Maybe you want to go straight to work. Maybe you have been saving up and you want to travel for a year. Maybe you really have no idea what or who you want to be, so spending four years and thousands of dollars getting an education to start a career your unsure of doesn’t seem to make sense.
Regardless, this is your first adult decision and you should OWN that decision. Owning our decisions means we make choices that resonate with us despite the pressures we face. Sometimes that means letting down our loved one. Sometimes it means leaving our best friends, our partner, or our safe and secure home with our parents. Sometimes it means going it alone and sometimes it means making what others may view as a mistake.
As I’ve said before, each decision we make begins to narrow the options that will be laid out before us in the future. Therefore, I urge you to make your decision about what comes next for you rather than following what you “should” do according to others. Whether it turns out beautifully or turns out to be your first real learning experience, you won’t regret making this decision for yourself. Your twenties are meant to be a time when you make decisions, learn from them, and change as often as needed. At no other time in life will you be this free to make mistakes and use them to craft your life story.
So take advantage of this now while you are still deciding who you want to be and what you want to experience in this world. Realizing that you are embarking on an amazing adventure—whatever it may look like—is the best first step in alleviating anxiety.
If you are experiencing anxiety during a life transition, please contact me and we can arrange for an appointment.
Jessica is a mental health therapist who specializes in helping women free themselves from anxiety, depression, and other stress-related conditions. She is honored to witness the experiences of her clients and work with them toward meaningful lives.