I routinely have students in my office who are puzzled — or lots more than that — about “what they should do” when they graduate. They wonder about vocation, about God’s will, about “the plan,” and about what they are good at. However you want to describe it, at some point students cross the threshold from school into the work world, and that threshold causes plenty of Angst.
Sometimes they just ask me point-blank: “What do you think I should do?”
One time I had a student come into my office, almost weekly, to inform me of her ongoing plans. She had a new plan every week. In fact, one of them went something like this: “I think God has called me to go to Australia to sell hotdogs on the beach.” As a parent with a daughter the same age, that “plan of God” struck me as singularly undivine, so I asked her this: “Have you talked to your parents about this?” She’s done very well in life, and to my knowledge hasn’t yet sold a hotdog.
Another time I had a student ask me in class what I thought God’s will for her life was. I asked her to come to my office because “I knew,” which was said with a wink. When she got to my office here is what I claimed: “I think you should save seal pups.” Of course, she thought I was nuts and I showed her I was. After having a good laugh, we had a conversation about what she was gifted to be and do. I listened to her Angst about it all.
Not knowing what to do in college is normal — and some graduate still not knowing — which begins to bring Angst to parents.
Not sure what you think about this — how you answer it for yourself or how you guide others — but this is my default piece of advice to each student:
Start by pursuing what you like to do the most. By doing that you often find your gift and your calling.
At the bottom of many of these conversations is a commitment to do what the Bible says, what the Spirit is leading them to do… etc. But, still, students have Angst about their future vocation and it seems wise to begin with what they like to do the most.
I found great help in Parker Palmer’s Let Your Life Speak, because it focuses on letting each person be who God made them to be and it works against letting others script your life for you.
How have you dealt with this and what advice have you given others?