If, like me, you've just graduated, this question is currently being thrust towards you a lot. Normally it will escape from the lips of a simpering adult (discounting myself as part of that functioning, mortgage-owning, salary-earning clan), who poses the question after light chit-chat. It could be a family friend or someone in a pub.
My response? 'I'm not sure yet, I'm just trying to find out what I like.'
They don't appreciate this. It stifles the promise of more small talk -- where do they go from here? They can't tell me oh yes, my friend's son is doing a grad scheme too. Or how excellent, I hear a law conversion is popular amongst humanities students. No, they ponder and twitch and eventually change the subject.
Yet, these insignificant encounters accumulate a building pressure. The 'real world', largely made up of these middle class drones, is breathing down the graduate's neck, sliding their moisturised, manicured hands over her temples to identify her skills, talents, techniques; which field will she slot most neatly into?
The experience is reminiscent of a conversation I had with a friend during my second year of university.
'I'm not doing anything productive this summer!' she shrieked, hands wringing.
'I'm not really either,' I replied breezily, stuffing my mouth full of chocolate in those retrospectively idyllic days of essay writing and late nights.
'But you did last summer! You did the summer school and the reviewing at that festival!' came the agitated response.
'I've got to be honest with you,' I said, a dubious revelation on the tip of my tongue. 'I partly only did those things to say I've done something. You know, something to talk to adults about.'
She gazed at me, relief flooding her face. 'I'm so glad you said that.'
This is the problem with the capitalist-minded climate of today. I have peers undertaking unpaid internships, corporate graduate schemes and further courses requiring self-funding. These are all very well and good, and I imagine some of these people are pursuing their true passions ... but I have a sneaking sense that many just want to put off reality and the drone-pressure for a little while longer. I feel as though the words 'something to put on your C.V.' are thrown around just a little too often. In short, it seems that a lot of people my age are doing these things merely for the sake of it.
I am extremely lucky to have parents who were able to support me through university, and that I got the chance to attend. And I recognise that having a degree might open up many more doors for me than for someone without one; I am truly grateful for that.
But please stop pushing my graduate slump even further into the ditch. I'm trying desperately to claw my way through these brambles of anxiety and near-depression, and constantly getting on my back is not helping.
Yes, I appreciate that the job climate is notoriously tough right now, and I should be grateful for anything I get. Yes, I know that I am the first academic year to have been hit with the inordinate £9k fees, and yes, you don't need to remind me that I currently have 93p in my bank account.
But I don't want to get into something just because I got in to it, because it was the first thing to come along and because I'm so fearful of that dirty word 'unemployment'. I don't want to be stuck in a dead-end career simply because I was too ashamed to admit that I don't know what to do with my life, and am still trying to find out.
So please stop trying to scare me into something I don't want to do. And next time you ask me, 'What are you going to do...?' when I tell you I've just finished my studies, why not just follow it up with a simple: 'Fair enough, you've got to do what's right for you.'