Off late, my Facebook news feed has been flooded with statuses about people moving to new cities and schools in pursuit of a Master’s degree. Aptly named, the fall season does cause a dip in my self-esteem level every time I come across such a status.
“How do they have it all figured out?” “How do they know what they want to pursue?”
The other day at a family gathering, my relative (I think) asked me about my plans for the future, “Aren’t you doing your Master’s?”
As I ogled at him with distraught blankness, he said, “Dream big, dear,” and walked off. I am still unsure if that was intended to be motivational or just a pitiful mock at my cluelessness.
Having recently completed my Bachelors, I know I am not alone when I say I have no clue about what I want to do henceforth. In fact, I have taken a year off to figure out what I like and what I want to pursue. I am quite happy about this decision. But I would be lying if I said I’m not bothered by these occasional questions by friends/family or when I see my peers starting their grad-life.
Having said that, something that I also learnt from my friends and peers is that most of them take up a Master’s program for the sake of it. No, I am not saying they don’t want to do it, or they are forced to do so. They simply take it up as the next course of action and is not as premeditated as it ought to be.
Let me explain.
The current scenario is that a student finishes schooling, does a Bachelor’s and immediately moves on to a Master’s program.
Safely assuming that schooling is fundamental and that most of us have enjoyed it, the Bachelor’s degree is something we are forced into, one way or another. A student seldom gets the exact undergraduate course that she/he wishes for.
I am going as far as to say, whatever we do up until our undergrad is relatively less significant than our Master’s. But before we get into ‘grad life’, we need to be so much more prepared — mentally, financially, physically, educationally and most importantly, experientially.
The infamous Tarantino quote, “I didn’t go to film schools, I went to films,” stresses the importance of hands-on experience. No, I am not saying don’t do a Master’s or go the drop-out way. Absolutely not.
But getting a Master’s degree for the sake of getting one, holds no value.
Why spend tonnes of money and effort if we aren’t prepared and 100% sure of our decision? Also, we need no telling about how competitive and demanding the professional world can be.
If you are just another person with a Master’s degree, how relevant will you be? More importantly, are you going to be completely satisfied with doing something half-heartedly?
A Master’s degree is supposed to help you specialise in a particular field and thereby master it. (No shit!). So how sure are we about what we want to pursue? And how prepared are we for that?
An article I came across online explained how, being prepared for a PG course, with experience and a clear perspective makes it that much more meaningful and worthwhile.
It also brought me to the revelation that -Most of us are driven by a sense of urgency and not by a sense of purpose.
We fear being late, we fear society’s perception, and we fear never being able to figure out. Hence, we end up going with the flow. We think, just like our under graduation we will figure this one out too, in due course. That, in my opinion, is the biggest mistake we millennials make.
So if you are someone like me, who just finished your undergrad and have no clue what you want to do, what you really shouldn’t do, is a Master’s. That will, in fact, prove to be counterproductive.
Find your purpose. The biggest luxury life presents to you at this age, is the ability to experiment. (Don’t experiment by doing Master’s though.)
Get a job, intern at a cool new startup or that big corporate you’ve always admired; volunteer abroad or even at a local NGO. Or simply travel.
Invest in relationships and friendships. Investing in doing things you love and things that make you happy.
When people talk about finding our purpose or finding our passion, it may seem whimsical and far-fetched. But (after sifting through several Self-help articles and Awkward Yeti memes) I have realised, in finding yourself, you find your purpose. When you liberate yourself and simply do things you enjoy, you are allowing your mind to develop and get inspired.
Now, that doesn’t mean you take long naps and vacations. You don’t chill. You have to do something that’s relevant to where you want to see yourself. You may not know what you want to do. But you do know what you don’t want to do. That’s a start!
I do not know what I want to pursue. But I have options. Everyone does. Or at least likes dislikes and a passion for something. Take up a job or project you’d enjoy, and that’s pertinent to what you want to likely pursue. You may not be sure of it nor see yourself in that field in the long run. That’s okay. As it is often reiterated, we have the freedom to experiment.
Experience and experimenting build us up. It makes us mentally and vocationally relevant thereby better preparing us for when we pursue our Master’s and subsequently, for our career as well.
So if you’re clueless, it’s okay. You have just got to start experimenting.
Find your purpose. Then Master it.