October 3, 2021

ONONYE | I Don’t Know What I’m Doing After I Graduate, Please Stop Asking Me

Print More

To my fellow Seniors, congratulations. We have finally hit that point in our Cornell careers where people care more about where we are going to be after we graduate than what we’ve done while we’re here. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve done a lot during your time in Ithaca.  

My high school in Southern California had one rule for Seniors and parents during the college admissions process. “Don’t talk about where you’re applying AND don’t ask where other people are applying.” Our reward was knowing that 1) everyone would go to college (and since it was a  pretty competitive school most people would go to pretty good colleges) and 2) on College t-shirt day (our last day of high school) we could brag about where we were going as much as we wanted to. 

If you’re a senior who has your gig lined up for next year, congratulations. You’ve worked hard and your all-nighters in Olin library and newfound-coffee-addiction are there to show for it. I can guarantee that all your peers who don’t have their gigs lined up yet are just a tiny-bit-of-a-lot jealous of you right now. 

I don’t have my post-Cornell move lined up yet. It might be a touch of overconfidence combined with my mom’s unwavering reassurance, but regardless of what I’m doing next year, I know that I will love it. I’m excited. For the first time in my life, there’s no set path for me right now. I joke to my friends that at this rate, this time next year I could be 1) in another country 2) in graduate school 3) starting my first job 4) living at home or a combination of the above. 

Amidst that excitement creeps in a pinch of anxiety and annoyance whenever someone asks me about my post-graduation plans. Because, I really don’t know. That answer makes me feel like I’m unprepared and behind my peers when I know that I’m not. 

I have always been open-minded about future goals and for the most part, doing so has led me to the most important decisions of my life. During my interview to get into my high school, I told my interviewer that I had plans to attend a different high school. But after getting accepted and attending, it became one of the best decisions of my life. 

Cornell was the last school (out of 20!) that I added to my Common App portal and I don’t know what my life would be like if I wasn’t here. I spent months contemplating whether or not to run for Student Assembly President last spring, and the first few months serving have been some of the most rewarding (and most challenging!) of my life. My life has been a long list of unplanned successes and calculated risks. 

Last week, I visited my best friend who just began her new young-adult-post-Cornell life. We’ve been friends for almost four years, and I’ve never seen her as happy as she was last weekend. She and the other friends I had spent months stressed out about their post-Cornell careers, and they are all really settling into their new lives. I remember just a few months ago when they too were scrambling to find jobs,  get fellowships and apply to graduate schools. 

So, for the seniors reading this column, I hope it makes you feel just a little bit better to know that there are others just like you trying to figure out their post-Cornell move. I’ll borrow my mom’s logic to tell you that regardless of where you end up next year, it will be a good year. But we’re not there yet, so enjoy your last moments at Cornell. The clock is ticking and May is just a few months away (December graduates have even less time), so be sure to pack in everything you love about this campus and this city before it’s too late. 

And for everyone who’s not a senior reading this column, stop asking the seniors what they’re doing next year. I promise they’ll tell you if (and when) they make up their minds. 

Anuli Ononye is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected]. Womansplaining runs every other Monday this semester.