“I don’t know…”

I stayed pretty consistent with my answer whenever I was asked what I wanted to do with my life, “I don’t know” with an uneasy laugh. I’d stayed on a pretty structured path for my entire life, until I didn’t. I graduated High School with every academic honor possible, continued on to a 4-year university, but once I got there, the “I don’t knows” started. I didn’t know what I wanted to major in (it changed 3 times, and I still didn’t stay within that field), I didn’t know what career path I wanted to go into, I didn’t know what made me happy, I didn’t know what to do. The constant string of ‘I don’t know’ haunted me; from someone who seemingly always had everything together and figured it out, it was my nightmare. 

But I graduated, got into the workforce and the “I don’t knows” turned into “Well maybe I can do this” but the maybe’s were short lived and I found all of the work unfulfilling and lost interest in short spans of time. I always somehow came back to the idea of knowing I wanted to help people in some way, I just didn’t know how. When I saw the job listing for Appalachian College Advising Corps, I immediately applied. My thought process was that if nothing else, it would give me the opportunity to help students through an extremely stressful time, and it would buy me a year to figure out life. 

After going through training, I felt more sure about my decision; I knew this was going to be something that I would enjoy doing for the time being. The program staff were amazing, and everyone was encouraging and passionate, something that I was not used to within a work environment. I eventually started at my school site, and it was admittedly a slow start. Everyone was in the groove of things, and I was new, the students had no idea who I was or really seemingly appeared to care. I can remember the first time a student came back for a second time, and then a third. Then another student started to stop by, checking in at least once a day; the feeling was unmatchable. I started having less “I don’t know” feelings and more “This feels so right.” 

One day as I sat at my desk in between meetings, I found myself looking at grad school programs. Furthering education was something I swore up and down that I would never even consider. Undergrad was unpleasant enough, why would I do it all over again? This was the thought that kept poking its way back into my brain, but then there was that one student. That one that both made my day and wrecked it at the same time. Maneuvering any part of her college application process was a headache for the both of us, but she never ceased to show up with a smile. Throughout our endless meetings, she shared more and more information about her life, stories that she shouldn’t have been able to smile through but somehow found a way. I admired her strength and ability to open up about such private matters, explaining her life to me as we sat on hold with RDS for hours on end. One afternoon, after a particularly long and extremely unhelpful phone call, I was feeling more defeated than ever and as she got up to leave, she looked at me and smiled. After putting down my stress ball she’d almost popped as I apologized, saying we’d try again after submitting further documents; “Thank you Ms. Minton, I really appreciate all you’re doing for me.” I applied to grad school for School Counseling that evening. 

My “I don’t know” turned into “I absolutely know what I want to do with the rest of my life.” I have nothing but gratitude for the Appalachian College Advising Corps for allowing me the opportunity to work within a high school in such a unique capacity. Without this job, I’m not sure if I would have ever found and pursued my purpose. I share this to say, life is never linear, ever. Life throws curve balls our way, plans change, and that’s okay. In some way or form, everyone’s uneasy ‘I don’t know’ eventually works itself out, and we find our way. 

Written by Katherine Minton, adviser Alexander Central High School



Katherine Minton, adviser Alexander Central High School
Published: May 20, 2024 11:44am