So, what are you going to do after you graduate? Where do you want to work when you’re finished school? Are there a lot of jobs in that field? Have you thought about what’s next? 

If there is one thing all college and university students can agree on it’s that we hate these questions.  

From my experience, the worst part of family functions and holidays is the blank expression on everyone’s face when I simply answer, “I don’t know”.  

This answer always seems to alarm the older generations in the room, who were probably already married and had children by the time they were my age.  

But times have changed; do I really need to know what I’m doing with the rest of my life straight out of university? I would say no.  

Yet to many of our older family members, the answer would be yes. 

That being sad, my best guess is that generational differences are likely to blame for the polar opinions on this topic.  

Our parents – often raised by young parents – grew up believing their lives would be on one track: find a job, find a partner, settle down, have kids, grow old in Florida – not too far from the lives most of our grandparents live.  

But the fact is times have changed drastically over the past few decades and no one is quite sure what the ‘norm’ is anymore.  

We’ll be much older than our grandparents and even our parents when we can finally settle down and start our lives.  

In our families’ eyes we’ve already been set back two to four years because of post-secondary schooling.  To them, it’s essential that we have everything figured out by the time we graduate so we can hit the ground running and catch up. 

Neither of my parents finished or even attended post-secondary school and today they’re living on the higher end of a middle class salary.  

My parents were lucky to have all the opportunities to start a decent life available to them straight out of high school, but this experience will be unheard of for our generation moving forward.  

Nearly everyone we know attends college or university in fear that if we don’t, we’ll never find a good enough job to maintain or improve the lives we’ve lived so far. 

Due to these differences, our generation has decided on life goals that go off track from what our family members expected.  

It’s becoming more common to get married and have children later in life. At the age of 22, I have yet to start and support a family of my own. Because of that, I haven’t felt any real pressure to get a full time job under my belt. Instead, I’m able to spend more of my young adulthood traveling the world and experiencing life for myself.  

Many of us grew up watching reruns of Friends on TVtropolis and couldn’t wait to graduate and live with our friends downtown.  

I always imagined myself jumping from job to job and sipping coffee at Toronto’s equivalent of Central Perk. 

I’m sure many of you can relate when I say that all I want to do after graduation is be Rachel Green and have no idea what I’m doing for ten years.  

This however, wouldn’t be an appropriate response to pass off to my family.  

Pop-culture aside, there are economical differences as well. There’ll be loans to pay off and rent payments to be made – and so I’m sure these annoying questions truly come from a loving place.  

Our families want to make sure that we’re ‘on the right track’ and thinking realistically about our futures. Still, I can’t help but wonder when it stopped being enough to just be a student.  

 

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