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Anxiety about the future or endless possibilities?

Blog — 12.11.2021

All my life I have had a plan, a plan for what I will study, what I will do and what I will become ”what I will become when I have grown up”. Last week someone asked ”what are you going to be when you grow up?” and when I started thinking, my answer became in some way unclear because I do not know yet. It feels like the more opportunities that arise and doors are opened, the more uncertain I have become about what I want to do. I do not know if it’s about anticipatory anxiety, or if it’s because I have gained greater insight into all the different possibilities that exist and that that I now have all these possibilities to choose between.

Our career can be experienced as an important and large part of one’s life. You go to high school and maybe write big exams and get good grades so that you can continue with a higher education, in my case university, where you study with the goal of building a future career. Often when you think of the word “career”, you might think of the future and work in the form of a ladder where you climb higher up, or that you should become something big and and gain a good position at your job. The Swedish definition of the word career (karriär) is described according to the Swedish Academy’s dictionary as; ”Win, fast promotion, rising in rank, at top speed forward”. A description that in my opinion is not the best. However, the English word ”career” is defined as ”lifelong professional development”, which I think is a much better way of looking at your career.

I myself study to become a class and special teacher, which is a very clear profession and with my education there is a clear career path. For other degrees, it may, however, be the opposite. They provide endless opportunities with many open doors, but the question is whether you feel that you have gained skills for a clear profession to build your career on or not. Is it this feeling of uncertainty what triggers anxiety for the future? ”You can be whatever you want, all doors are open”. It is important that you are able to put your knowledge in a context, it is important that you get the opportunity to gain experience from your knowledge and it is important to reflect on yourself and your career.

If we follow the English definition, which I would like to emphasize, then career career does not only refer to what is to come/the future, but also, but also what you have already experienced, the choices you have made, knowledge you have gained and experiences from your whole life. One might even say that career is everything you have experienced from when you were born until today. So, what do I want to say with this? Well, that it not only is important to look ahead, but it is also equally important to reflect on different choices you have made in the past and why you are where you are today. Imagine that your career is like a train, you can always look back on which train you took in the past and why you got on that train, but you cannot hop on a train that has already passed.

Take a break from reading and think about the following questions:

What and who has influenced your choices?

What has been important to you in making your choices?

How do you see your future?

Where do you want to go and how do you get there?

I myself see my future as having endless possibilities. I can work with what I want, and I have had the opportunity to study things that suits me. I can, however, also imagine a certain pressure from the increasing study pace, the demands getting higher just as the possibilities are endless, so, anxiety for the future is understandable. For those of you who feel that you know what you want, continue the good work on the path you are on. For those of you who recognize yourself in the second option, I want to highlight another opportunity to discuss your career. An opportunity that may help and support those who do not know at all what they want to do, or also for those who have a goal but want support in reaching that goal. Åbo Akademi University Career Services offer services that support students and career guidance. It is important not to stare blindly on you own plan, but to also keep one’s eyes open for the opportunities that arise in everyday life and on the road forachieving your goals. So, seize the chances and opportunities that come your way, not everything needs to be planned.

More information about Åbo Akademi University Career Services’ services can be found here.