Foresight: The ability to predict what might happen or what needs to happen in the future. Otherwise known as: an ability I unfortunately do not possess.
Like most people, I wasn’t too sure what I wanted to do when I entered college. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to go to college, but with a little coaxing from my parents, I entered my freshman year with enough credits under my belt to get me out of there quickly.
I took classes I liked: history, philosophy, journalism and a brief affair with prelaw. After my second semester, I decided I wanted to graduate early, study hard and eventually go to law school. However, I did not predict the unimaginable impossibility of the LSAT. After one failed practice test too many, I quickly dropped my prelaw classes and focused more on my journalism minor. If I couldn’t practice law I thought I could at least write about it.
After graduating before all my friends, reality hit me hard, and I fell into — dare I say it — a bit of a depression. My portfolio and clippings were mediocre, I was ill-prepared for the overly saturated job market, I underestimated my student loan debt and I felt more lost than ever.
I began work fundraising for a nonprofit environmental organization. It was a campaign position, so I looked at it as a way to pass the time and make a little money. Surprisingly, it also ended up being something I was good at. I used skills taught to me by my journalism professors: persuasive arguments, public speaking and fact checking. But as anyone who’s ever worked on a campaign knows, the work is temporary.
After a few short months, I was once again unemployed and freaking out. Yet, my time spent campaigning instilled in me a new sense of purpose. I realized that while I may not have the guts or standardized test scores to go to law school, I did have the work ethic and desire to pursue work in the world of nonprofits.
After more seasonal nonprofit work and frequent rejection letters, I am now working part-time as an after-school resource teacher for a nonprofit organization. We provide extended learning and aid to students in low-income communities. A year ago, I never would have thought I’d be in this position, but it turns out it’s something I love. I love my students, I love the organization I work for, I love the other teachers at my school and for the first time in a long time, I can see myself following this path. It’s sparked in me a desire to continue my education, and possibly get the master’s degree required to help people further. At first, I thought my dreams required a JD or a portfolio of impressive bylines, but it turns out they don’t.
Admittedly, I never would have thought that I would go to graduate school, or that I would actually enjoy working with kids, but I do, and I know I want to continue to fight for them. Right now I’m preparing to apply for graduate programs in social work with a focus on community organizing. I’ve realized that while my bachelor’s degree can get me through the door, I need a master’s in order to effectively enact changes in this world. My reality has rapidly diverged from my undergraduate expectations, but in some ways, that’s the beauty of poor planning.
Of course, I’ll always hold a place in my heart for those journalism dreams, and I still see the beauty in law and politics, but like most post-grads, I’ve learned to take charge of my reality and stop dwelling on the “what-ifs” and junior year expectations. I still lack a great deal of foresight, but if I’ve learned anything this past year it’s that it’s never to late to keep working on it.