IDK - I Don't Know

I literally don’t know what I’m doing!

10 grade point average in school, a latin honours degree in bachelors and a near distinction in masters has been my track record in academia. Don’t get me wrong, these have been great results but I’ve had my fair share of hard work and struggle to achieve these. The behind-the-scenes has definitely been no cake walk. I had started to believe that this is a pattern in my life - aim high, struggle, work round the clock, reap the fruits!Nonetheless, I was content as after every phase of “I don’t know what I’m doing,” came clarity and direction to guide my next steps.

In retrospect, I recognise that I haven’t had the most confidence throughout the years. I’m too harsh on myself and feel the need to prove my skill set to match the ambitious goals I have set. So far, it panned out well for me. I balanced extra-curricular activities and academia in bachelors and moved continents amidst the pandemic to pursue my masters; all to ensure there was no gap year between the two. However, life had other plans for me. All the planning and organising went for a toss post my graduation in 2022.

A series of events that followed brought chaos to my decisive personality. I decided to do a clinical placement in a hospital to decide which niche of psychology I would want to choose to build my career in—clinical or corporate. But, the hospital did not land up providing any shifts despite me finishing their extensive training modules. I was at home, with a degree, no job and with no clue on how to proceed. I didn’t know where to start. The next one year is a blur. After months of research I locked in corporate psychology as my preferred sector. I kept trying various avenues such as LinkedIn, online job postings, and walk-in part-time opportunities to fund myself in the meanwhile, social networking, online certifications, basically everything! I started out optimistic, I thought I would try and find an internship and build it from there. Being an international student in a global hub like London comes with limited opportunities and cut-throat competition. Furthermore, the entire job market post Brexit and Covid-19 was at an all time low with people comparing it to be as severe as the 2008 recession. With organisations looking to cut costs and maximise efficiency, there was not a lot of scope for a graduate fresh out of university with zero industry experience. It was a vicious cycle — employers wanted experienced graduates but no one was willing to give graduates the chance to gain experience as they couldn’t afford to in the current market conditions. I slowly started losing patience and confidence. After a point, it feels like you are the problem. Maybe I am not good enough. For the first time in my life, I was unsure about the one sphere of my life I was so sure about till this point. Being a psychology student is no saving grace from feelings of being victim to imposter syndrome, anxiousness and low self-esteem even if that isn’t reality.

Life forced me to stay in that phase for a year despite my best efforts to get out of it. I may not have a job today, my visa might be ending in December this year but I’ve grown and evolved. When you are left with no option, you figure a way out. I had a huge problem with not knowing what I was doing. But this phase of my life taught me how to embrace that. I understood that my time is going to come and it is okay to not know for a while. It isn’t the end of the world. I started working part-time at a dessert bar and started afresh with renewed enthusiasm. I developed resilience that I didn’t know existed within me. I’ve learnt how to keep my cool and not lose hope. I may not know what I’m doing now or for the next few months but as long as I do not give up and keep trying, I think it’s more than okay if I literally don’t know what I’m doing. Like they say, the journey might prove more valuable than the destination at the end of the day! Now, I am on this journey of figuring out, "what's next?"