A beat behind — and that’s OK with me

I’m not ready to plan out my future just yet

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Lucie Drahozal is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily.

Christina Anton | Cavalier Daily

You can ask anyone, but I’m almost never on time. In my defense, I’m not tragically late — just chronically late. Approximately 5 to 10 minutes late, to be exact. It’s practically a personality trait at this point. 

For instance, I couldn’t decide on a college for the life of me. I didn’t pick my major until the last day of my second year. I’m consistently a little late, in terms of both big events and little commitments. Overall, it’s not indecision so much as it is my hatred of feeling rushed — rushed to make decisions, rushed to go places, rushed to hit the deadlines that society has placed for me. And this year, it feels like everyone is sprinting past me. 

I think that the idea of an internship is a great idea. Everyone should have an opportunity to show how motivated and interested they are in a particular field and be able to dip their toe in the water. However, my friend — a junior in high school, mind you — had an internship this summer. He doesn’t even know where he’s going to college yet, and he had an internship. In my junior year of high school, my biggest concern was where our volleyball team would stand in the rankings, not an internship. And this is exactly why I am OK with being a beat behind. 

I personally have nothing lined up for next summer as of yet. I have been looking and applying, giving in to the typical “third-year mentality” of needing an internship before the start of fourth year. Although, I suppose my third year is a relatively normal time to be on the prowl for a coveted internship. The summer going into senior year of high school is not, and that is what the world is becoming — unnecessarily competitive and aggressive. 

The sentiment of needing an internship is reaching young students earlier and earlier as schools get more and more competitive. The pace of life continues to get faster, and soon getting an internship after junior year of high school will be normal and commonplace rather than a bit intense. I am certainly not here for it. 

What is particularly aggressive — and completely unnecessary, really — about this stressful mindset is that adults have always told me that it was okay to not have my life figured out yet. However, now all of a sudden I’m supposed to have some plan of what I want in the future, including internships.

This anxiety-filled and work-focused world already controls the mindsets of a majority of college students. Especially as a third-year, I don’t think a day goes by without hearing — often repeatedly — “application,” “information sessions” and “resume.” It really is crazy, but I know most college students jump on board since many feel the imminent pressure to prepare for the real world. But this accelerated attitude towards figuring your life out is simply not sustainable in the long run. 

I’m glad I refused to entertain the thought of an internship before my third year, even if it is at the expense of a future job. I’ll get a job eventually, and I think for me succumbing to the suffocating atmosphere of the internship and job process too soon would have been detrimental to my mental health. 

I needed the time during the summer to really think about what kind of job field I was interested in. I never had a concrete direction I always wanted to follow. I have entertained the thought of several different jobs and professions, so trying to pinpoint what I wanted to do at the ripe age of 19 was way too much for me. Instead, I decided to work at a summer job with my friends, to start formulating some ideas about what I might be interested in and to leave the stress for another time. 

Now I’m feeling the pressure. I have been really searching and applying — not just to keep up with the pace of society — but because I am actually trying to decide what jobs I’m interested in. Scrolling through Handshake for different openings and opportunities has allowed me to look a little deeper into the type of work I could see myself doing in the future. This process has been enlightening, but simultaneously intense and a bit soul-crushing. Maybe I’m too late to apply for certain positions or I don’t have prior office experience, but I took the time to really think about what I am interested in, and I am finally ready to throw myself into the world of job and internship searches. Though I may be a beat behind, I’m going for it and doing it on my terms. 

I’m sure some parents will not approve of my lax approach to the internship search, and many companies will probably thank me for narrowing their search for “qualified” interns, but I’m OK with it. For me, it makes more sense to take the time I need to prepare myself for this craziness rather than to let myself be dragged in and wind up miserable in the end. 

Regardless of class year, if this intensifying pressure to participate in the internship search is feeling overwhelming, try to step back. At the University, it is especially easy to fall into this idea that everyone has their lives planned out. Sure, I may be considered a beat behind schedule because I don’t have everything completely planned for my future yet. However, what I’ve learned is that it is perfectly fine to take a step back and take a minute to figure it all out — even at a place as fast-paced as the University. 

Lucie Drahozal  is a Life Columnist for The Cavalier Daily. She can be reached at life@cavalierdaily.com. 

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