Matric/grad 2022. What.a.year. 

From career fairs to matric balls, from valedictories to the endless stress of studying, it all finally culminated into the biggest academic test of your life (thus far)… the Matric Finals – or your final college exams. You studied hard, you gave it your best shot, and you came out the other side of a whirlwind year as a successful graduate. You’ve finally reached the end of your school or college journey, and it’s time to start the next phase of your life which means… *RECORD SCRATCH* 

Wait…what exactly does that mean? What exactly is it that lies ahead, and how does one sufficiently navigate this new territory? 

If you’ve just finished school, you may suddenly feel the expectation of achieving success in your upcoming studies or career start to weigh down on you more than ever before, now that you’ve completed your secondary schooling career. You may also feel that you need to have all the answers for when someone asks you what your future plans are, or what you plan to do with your tertiary qualification once you’ve graduated. 

If you’re anything like I was, you have very little idea of whether the university or college course you’ve chosen is indeed the correct one for you, much less the one you want to build a career around for the next 40-plus years of your life.

 On the other hand, you might be the kind of person who’s always been certain of their career aspirations, and have worked hard to get into the field of study they’ve always imagined for themselves. Alternatively, you may have decided not to study further right now, to perhaps take a break from academics and navigate the working world, travel locally or abroad, perhaps all of the above and perhaps none. Maybe you haven’t planned anything at all for the near future.

Whatever your scenario right now, I’m here to tell you that it is perfectly okay to not have the next 2-5 years of your life mapped out, and although it’s normal to feel anxious about the uncertainty of what the future holds, you still have so much time to find out what you truly want to do with your life. We’re constantly fed the narrative that we always need to be hustling and chasing success, that we have to have it all figured out. Society feeds us stories of quick success and fame, whether it be the rags to riches story of an actor, singer or footballer, a successful working professional, an influencer or TikTok star-  so many people seem to have just blown up overnight, and they’re now living their ‘best lives’ for all the world to see and aspire to. 

That kind of quick fame is indeed a reality for some and there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to being famous or successful, but rarely does it happen as quickly and as seamlessly as we’re led to believe. More than ever, social media paints a picture of celebrities’ lives as being a constant highlight reel, completely leaving out the bloopers, which are actually the parts that express the true reality and character of our everyday lives. 

If you need evidence that success doesn’t come easily or quickly, bear in mind the following famous people :-

Albert Einstein (probably the most famous example of failure to success ) was labelled as ‘intellectually challenged’ throughout his schooling career. He dropped out of college having failed his studies, and became a salesman, all this before finally gaining recognition for his true mathematical brilliance, from the age of about 26 years old. We may still consider this as being quite a young age to achieve any sort of fame or success. And bear in mind that Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first job, and even took a break during her university studies, during which time she worked her way up from being a local news anchor, and finally starting her own talk show, thereafter gaining success from 35 years of age. Vera Wang, one of the most famous designers in the last 30 years, designed her first dress at the age of 40 years old. The list of famous people who achieved success well after completing tertiary education, or working many normal or unsatisfying jobs, is endless.

Right now is not the time to take life too seriously and get caught up in a race towards the future. You have the time to explore your options, to travel, to try your hand at different jobs, hobbies or courses that pique your interest, and leave behind those that don’t. There’s no better time than the present to do the things you really want, and in a few years you’ll have built enough awesome memories, life experience and character to know exactly who you are, and what you want for your life and career.

Tell us: are you at the end of your studies? What’s next? Or do you have advice for young people at this point of their lives?