Why I am Done Saying “What If” and Beating Myself Up for Not Subscribing to the 4-Year Plan

Why I am Done Saying “What If” and Beating Myself Up for Not Subscribing to the 4-Year Plan

By: Scarlett Poole
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It seems everyone is in a race, a race against their classmates and against themselves. I know I was. So many of us strive to finish our degrees in the prescribed four years, in the hopes of getting our dream job at twenty-two, putting in our thirty years and retiring to Mexico. Okay – maybe it’s just me that wants to retire to Mexico, but you get the idea. There is this hustle mentality – we strive to do as much as we can as fast as we can. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others and are never satisfied with the achievements we have made. We think we aren’t measuring up to our peers, and thus have failed. I am here to tell you that is 100% wrong.

I have a friend who got their Business degree in four years and then couldn’t find a job. They did finally find one about two years later after having to work odd jobs that they weren’t passionate about, nor related to their degree. This same friend at the age of 27 is now going back to school to pursue something completely different – jewelry design.

I have another friend who studied pre-med, then tourism and never finished her degree. However, she was always eager to take any opportunity she could whether it be internships or participate in networking events. At the age of 24, she got her dream job doing the marketing for a large natural cosmetics company.

I hold a Diploma in Publishing from Langara College; have a few years of relevant work experience in my field of study, including my current placement at a non-profit working as a Communications and Public Relations Assistant. While all of this sounds great, I won’t receive my Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Communication until I am 26. I took off a couple years between receiving my diploma and starting my studies at Simon Fraser. In that time, I worked odd jobs and travelled extensively throughout Europe and Mexico. While this break delayed my graduation, I don’t regret it for an instant.

When I started at Simon Fraser in 2015, I thought I wanted to finish my degree as quick as possible, but I am glad I afforded myself the time to participate in Co-op. Nothing can really prepare you for the workforce like actually rolling up your sleeves and joining it. The support provided by the Co-op advisors before and during my placements has been integral to my success. Co-op has taught me so much about what I want out of a job and what kind of company culture I want to be a part of. While school opened me up to many opportunities, you cannot be taught what it’s going to feel like working for a non-profit or in the private sector.

The time I spent outside the classroom gave me newfound perspective. It allowed room for growth that helped me succeed better both in school, and my Co-op placements, as I was a more mature student undertaking them. One year worth of co-op and I have my goals and future career aspirations more clearly outlined. I could have graduated sooner, but who knows how long I’d be lost after crossing that stage.

Everyone is different and no two paths are the same. I am grateful for my unique path and everyone should be grateful for theirs. You are not them and you will never be. Remember: You just do you.

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Posted on August 17, 2017