Well, this is it. I’ve cleaned out my desk. I’ve logged out of my social media accounts — after a few too many Facebook hacks from officemates throughout the years. And now this is it. It’s time to fit my farewell to the Truman State University Index in a mere 800 words. I could spend these words gushing about this publication, about the lessons I’ve learned, people I’ve met and experiences I’ve gleaned. But I won’t. Instead of focusing on the past four years, I want to focus on the future. Because the fact I’m currently having to face is I’m graduating in two weeks and have no set career plans. And it might come as a shock to hear I’m all right with that. Unlike many of my fellow seniors who have jobs lined up, are planning trips to Europe or are celebrating acceptance letters from graduate schools, my life post undergrad seems up in the air. I haven’t even begun to apply for jobs. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I still get people who make excuses for my lack of a career. See, I’m getting married this summer to my absolute best friend and moving to Washington D.C. But before you groan and write me off as one of those hated people who has their life together and posts engagement photos on social media, let me just say that getting married does not mean I have my life together in any way. I’m leaving my family and my friends, and I’m moving to a place where the only person I know is my fiance and his cats. Beyond deciding who I get to annoy for the rest of my life, I have no set plans. And yet I’m okay with this because, well, not knowing is part of the adventure. There seems to be a large group in our society who thinks the phrase, “I’m not sure what I’m doing after graduation,” translates to, “I’m a huge deadbeat.” I mean, they’ve had four whole years to figure out what they want to do with their lives. How could they not know? The answer is it’s absolutely possible to not know. In four years I’ve barely had enough time to figure out what the heck a W-2 is. And if someone wants to explain it again to me, please do — asking for a friend. We spend “the best years of our lives” in a place far away from home where we’re expected to learn about science, math, history and English, plus real-life skills like doing laundry, paying bills and dealing with roommate drama. And on top of all that, we’re supposed to stop in our tracks one day as if we’d been struck with a sudden moment of clarity and realize we’re meant to become a playwright for a British musical, or a martial arts instructor dedicating their life to teaching kung fu to polar bears so they can combat global warming. Kudos to you if you have figured out your life goals. But to insist everyone has to figure out their plan in four years is not realistic. The trouble with college being labeled as “the best years of your life” is it sets up any time after as a huge letdown. In reality, it’s only the beginning. Our education gives us the tools we need to experience the real adventure — becoming the person you want to be to make your mark on the world. For some people it takes years to find their true calling. For others, it takes nearly a lifetime. And others lose sight of that adventure and settle for something they don’t love. If you never lose your sense of adventure, you’ll never settle. My parting words to you all are to never settle. You can bide your time in your retail job if it’s getting you to your next big step, but never lose your sense of adventure. If that means having your relatives throw their hands up in despair at your lack of a career, so be it. Take the time you need to get your feet firmly planted so you can find your adventure. I want to write. I want to travel. I want to meet new people and learn new things. And I never want to stop learning. I’m ready to put myself out there and find my own adventure. So cheers to the Index, and to the readers who have managed to stick with this column to the 800th word. Here’s to your own life adventures — and may you never know what you’re doing next.
Emily Wichmer is a senior French and communications major from St. Louis, Mo.
This editorial originally appeared in the April 28 issue of the Index. Be sure to pick up a copy on newsstands now.