What happens when you don't have a plan for after you graduate college?

ziedarling.com | what happens when you don't have a plan for after graduation and why that's totally ok

Pretty much my entire life, I've had some kind of a game-plan. In your early years, someone else makes those plans for you. Then after high school, you're running the show. For me, I went to college for graphic design with a focus in illustration. I never changed majors; I didn't switch schools. I worked my way through by working similarly-themed jobs, even if you had to squint a little to see the connection. (I've always been the master at making a resume enormously cohesive even if none of it looks like it'll fit.) 

I always met with my advisor getting his opinion on what classes I should take when and then would double check that with my personal mentor, etc. I started a blog, started selling products, networking, and building my little empire up before I even honestly knew what my empire was. 

My sophomore & junior year of college, I decided I wanted to work as a PR, marketing, social media queen in some way. I did two social media-ish internships, read dozens of blogs, books and articles, even writing a few myself. 

Then, somewhere at the very last second of junior year, I decided I wanted to eventually work in the magazine industry. So I shifted gears, applied to (and had) internships that focused on that. My senior thesis became starting my own magazine, and I began hoarding magazines at an alarming rate. 

Then as graduation started looming closer and closer, I started to get a little fuzzy on my plan. I recognized that while I loved my internships in the magazine industry, I wasn't really into the lifestyle that came with working for someone else's. I would rather just run my own and create my own lifestyle. That would now be my side-hustle and then I'd just get a gig at some design agency in town, and do that for a year or so. 

I graduated, got a job & started it within a week of graduating. I worked there for a hot second and then walked away. 

And right there things changed for me. I suddenly didn't have a plan. I couldn't work full-time on my magazine yet, because there wasn't any money in that, and I have bills to pay. I really, really didn't want to just find a "job" and everything felt enormously chaotic. 

Because babes, I'll be real honest with you... I'm a total control freak. And the last few months of my life have been one tidal wave after another. Every time I feel like I've got a plan, it falls or shifts in some way. Every time I feel so out of control and panicked at where money is going to come from and how on earth I'm still doing this, things even out. 

I'm freelancing, teaching and running a shop with my mom full time. I picked up a super part time gig at this awesome shop on weekends to provide me with a little more stability (and sense of normalcy) and in any "freetime" I pretend to have goes towards building the next issue of Clever Darling Magazine. 

None of this makes sense. Not even a little. But it's definitely taught me a couple things: 

1. SHIT IS GOING TO HIT THE FAN. And it's totally going to suck. There have been days where I've called my mom crying because I feel like a total failure. There have been days where I was expecting this AWESOME thing to happen and it definitely didn't happen. There have been days where I have so many potential clients bidding for me that I've had to send a couple away. And there have also been days where I've placed a bid on a project and gotten completely shut down. I've had to stop working with one client because the situation became unbearably difficult. There have been numerous panicked moments of me redoing my finances in an attempt to try and magically make money appear. 

2. BUT IT'S TOTALLY OK. Somehow, every single time I get worried about money, something comes through. A new gig, a client finally paying their invoice, a check from that awesome shop I work at, my class selling out- twice. I've never missed a bill and I have a cool new apartment and my fridge is fully stocked. And besides that, I know that without a doubt, if things ever really did get bad, my family wouldn't let me starve or go homeless :) 

3. AS TERRIFYING AS IT IS, SOMETIMES, IT'S BETTER TO GO WITH THE FLOW. I cannot believe I'm saying that, especially about my own life. But honestly, if I had tried to plan any of this, I wouldn't be having the absolute blast that I am. I get to work with amazing babes every day and I get to work hard on things that matter to me. Planning, at least at this point, would just get in the way for me. 

So what, Zie? You want us to not plan things and just HOPE a job lands in our laps and that MAYBE we'll be able to pay bills, etc.? No. But I do want you to know that if you don't have a plan, that's ok.  You don't have to. Take one day at a time. Are you working your retail or food service job still? That's totally fine. 

My favorite quote I've seen in a really long time said: 

"The worst mistake you can make in your twenties is thinking you have to have your shit together."  

So I say go with the flow, enjoy this chaos, make new friends, eat weird food, figure out who you are. Let this crazy time of our lives be fun, not frightening. Embrace it.  

And remember. You're a bad ass bitch and you got this.