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On why it’s okay to not know yet

“What are you doing this summer?”

If one more person asks me this question, I may combust. And if I don’t, I will likely respond with the same four words that have graced my tongue time and time again since the beginning of the school year – I don’t know yet.

I’m only a freshman, but it’s starting to seem like the people I’ve talked to have had their summer of 2018 planned out even well before move-in day. While I was sending my fridge to the nearest Target, perhaps they were sending their résumés to the nearest companies.

Regardless of how they got everything together so quickly, all I know is that while I was debating whether or not I wanted to drop a class in Week 2 of fall quarter, half of the people around me were debating what tie to wear for their Google or Facebook interview. Needless to say, the pressure is building for me to figure out what I’m doing this summer. Unfortunately, now that I have all of these time-sensitive assignments because the quarter has started, looking into internships and jobs is a task that consistently takes the back-burner as I prioritize everything else, consequently adding to the stress as I become more aware that just because it’s not “due” tomorrow, doesn’t mean that this isn’t time-sensitive as well. I mean, application deadlines are quickly approaching.

But I can’t even blame it all on not having the time. When I went home for winter break, I did pull out my computer to search every now and then, as painful as it was to force myself to sacrifice those minutes of relaxation. Even when I was making a conscious effort to find something, I still didn’t even really know what I was looking for. What do I want to do this summer? I honestly can’t say that I’m exactly sure. I just know that I don’t want to wake up hating every day for three months.

It also didn’t help that there were several factors outside of my control limiting my options. For one, as I mentioned before, I’m only a freshman, and roughly 75 percent of the internships I looked into were either looking for juniors and seniors or graduate students. Then the other 24 percent required one to two years of some sort of experience that I just don’t have, or for me to be available to work full-time before I’ll even be done with school for the year. The remaining one percent consisted of options that were simply of no interest to me whatsoever.

And so, feeling discouraged and defeated and ready to get back to enjoying Christmas dinner leftovers, I decided to make it all a problem for my future self. Well, here I am, three weeks into the future, unable to put it off for much longer, and still just as unsure of what to do as I’ve ever been.

In my efforts to make some sort of progress, I’ve begun to wonder if the only reason I’m even feeling any sort of “pressure” at all is because the people around me who have it all together have made me feel like I’m doing something wrong. Am I actually falling behind like I’ve convinced myself that I am? Or have they just been sprinting ahead?

For anyone else who may find themselves struggling to figure out what to do for those three months, I think it’s important to consider that this is an above-average environment. Even if you don’t have it all together right now and everyone that you’ve been talking to does, that doesn’t mean that this is going to make or break your entire future. So what am I doing this summer? Well, maybe I’m not currently up for the most competitive internship in the country, but maybe I don’t need to be, either. I’m still figuring it out, but as long as I get it done, I should be moving on my own time, not someone else’s.

 

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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