When you are figuring out where to go next, don’t forget to celebrate how far you have already come

A few weeks ago, I watched my son receive his college degree from the same university that I graduated from a few decades earlier.

It was a great day for him and all of the graduates, and it was fun to see so many students receive their diplomas and begin to move into the next phases of their lives.

The time at commencement made me recall how when I received my college degree in 1992, I was on top of the world but scared of it, too.

I was proud to have finished school, but I also had no idea what would be next for me. Several of my friends already had jobs, but all I had lined up was my old part-time post at a grocery store. I was thankful to have that job while I continued to look for a position in my field, but it was a little frustrating.

People would often congratulate me for earning my degree and doing (relatively) well at college, and it felt good to hear that. I really did work a lot in my classes, jobs and internship (at The Farmland News!), and I felt like I had made it through a lot.

The problem usually arose with the next natural question in the conversation.

“So what are you doing next?”

It was awkward to not have an answer, other than just saying that I was looking for a job or to ask them if they would like paper or plastic bags for their groceries.

I had succeeded by graduating, but felt a little like I had failed because I didn’t have a job yet.

After a few weeks, I landed an interview for a job that sounded great, and as luck would have it, I didn’t get the job. That didn’t help my confidence much, but after a few more weeks I picked up an interview for another career opportunity and thankfully got the position.

It was exactly the type of work I wanted to do, with the only problem being that it paid next to nothing because it was at a super small newspaper.

I gratefully took the position, which I enjoyed and learned a great deal from. That job somehow led into another and then another and so on, and now I am about to start the next step in my career.

As I watched my son and the thousand of other students walk across the same stage that I walked across in 1992, I eventually stopped thinking about myself long enough to consider how nervous many of them likely are about their futures.

No doubt they are excited to be finished with school, but it’s always awkward to end one phase of your life and to move onto the next. And when you don’t know what the next phase is yet, or even where you will be living in that next phase, it can be rather daunting.

The thing to remember, though, is that everyone has their own path and it rarely goes where you think that it will. I had no idea where life would take me, but somehow I have made it to this point in life.

Frankly, I’m not exactly sure how I got this far, and now I am nervous now about the new job I’m about to start. Will the people there like me? How long will it take to feel comfortable with all of the work? Where will I eat my lunch?

So for all of the college and high school graduates who are not sure where life is going yet, and for anyone else who is also unsure about what step to take next in life, you need to remember that you’ve already come very far.

I couldn’t be prouder of my son, and I’m not worried about what comes next for him because I am already pleased with where he is and who he is right now.

And wherever you are in life, I hope that you don’t let uncertainty or doubt keep you from celebrating the steps you have already taken. I also hope that you don’t worry too much if you don’t know which way to go next.

Everyone has his or her own path, and every path is different. The thing to remember is that you are already moving forward, even if you are not going in the direction that you originally planned.

It seems like just yesterday that I graduated, and looking back on it now, I’m glad that it worked out that I didn’t have a job and didn’t know what I was going to do right after I graduated. I was able to spend some time at home, and then that time led me a job that I liked and to a life that I love.

No one is sure about what the future holds, and no one has everything figured out (no matter what they tell you). The best thing you can do is to try to move forward while you enjoy where you are today.

Today is pretty amazing and before you know it, you’ll be sitting in some bleachers somewhere thinking about how nice today was and how grateful you are that it was part of your path.

17 thoughts on “When you are figuring out where to go next, don’t forget to celebrate how far you have already come

  1. It’s always good to look back and acknowledge your accomplishments, rather than bemoaning the failures. I spent half my life striving to reach that top rung, and I did. But once I’d been there, done that, I realized it wasn’t necessary for me to keep on doing it. That’s when I finally found contentment. I’m perfectly happy to sit back and watch everyone else go through the struggles that I’ve already overcome, and to remember that I do, in fact, have a good life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have done a lot of that, too, trying to figure out how to get to certain places. I like how you wrote that, and I’m glad you figured it all out and that you are content. You can tell you are happy, as it shines through in your writing. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Life is definitely interesting, and I am curious about where it will take me next. Here’s hoping for a bright future for you and your family, too. Also, your writing is just going to continue to get more and more popular, you are so good at this. Have a good day today!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Well done Nick and jnr Nick and best wishes.
    I did a career once, it was hard work so I gave it up and bum around instead. (This is not quite the whole story but it is simpler and more comment-friendly.) So yep, you never know what life (or how close to it not being very long) you’re going to get, so enjoy what you have and have had all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Bryntin, I like the short and comment-friendly story of your career, and will want to read more about it in the future. I agree, enjoy the time you have, especially if it involves writing on a blog. Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. First of all, congratulations to your son! Secondly, this post made me think of my own college graduation, now 32 years ago, and all the excitement and anxiety about the future that it brought with it. But, it also made me reflect that it was just over one year ago that I moved to a new city, a new university, a new challenge, andI felt it all again, as I had many times over my long career, with each new position. I guess we’re never too old to feel vulnerable and unsure.

    Good luck to you as you move to your own new challenge! I know your positive outlook that shines through your posts (despite that sometimes sarcastic and self-deprecating humor that I enjoy) will serve you well as you take on new challenges.

    I think I actually made it through an entire comment without my own sarcastic, self-deprecating snarkiness. Oh no, I MUST BE GETTING OLD . . . . . crap.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! And I appreciate the snarkiness. It is funny how often in life you can feel vulnerable and unsure. I’m glad things are going well for you with your moves. Thanks again!

      Like

  4. This isn’t what I was expecting, being a bit short on humor and clever wordplay. It’s a great thing to see the ones you love succeed. Thanks for telling us about it.
    I’m a high school dropout (LONG story) but I have never thought of myself as a failure. Michael Jordan once said “In my life I have failed over and over again. That is why I succeed”. If you conquer the world I will fly your flag.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kenny. This one was a little different, and I may try to do a few different things on here in the future. We’ll see what I actually get done. You are a success, my friend! It sounds like you are doing great things in life, and hopefully this weekend is going well, too. I will also send you a flag to fly when I become rich and famous. Thanks!

      Like

    1. Thanks! It is amazing to look back at life sometimes and see how far you have made it already. I don’t know how I got here, I just know I didn’t do it by myself. I will let you know if they tell me where to eat or not. Thanks!

      Like

  5. Beautiful post. I love this more serious and heartfelt style. I think everyone can relate to this feeling in one way or another.
    I wish both you and your son luck and a lot of happiness in your next steps and I’m looking forward to reading about your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this. I was going through something & this post just brightened my day. It’s like a light bulb went off. Don’t ever stop writing, You never know who you’ll inspire.

    Liked by 1 person

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