Risks are sort of terrifying.
A few nights ago, I went out for drinks with a college friend who is about to jet off to Argentina to teach English for 8 months. She’s the type who’s traveled all over–by herself! She absolutely loves to travel, having already gone to South America several times. It’s stuff like this that makes me envious of people and their risk-taking ways.
My friend and I have very similar personalities. We’re both emotional and somewhat reserved, but are generally in good spirits. I mentioned to her that I wish I was better at taking risks. This is one of my greatest weaknesses, and it always has been.
Then she told me that when she travels for long periods of time, the transition is difficult. She always cries and has a period of adjustment. It’s easy to assume, at least for me, that the people who are out there doing the cool stuff and racking up these awesome life experiences are able to breeze through these decisions and through every step of the process. That they easily go with the flow of everything that comes their way. And perhaps this is sometimes true. But it’s important to remember that everyone has reservations about new experiences, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try our hardest to make them happen.
Adulthood is all about taking risks, and I really ought to take more of them.
“Things change. And friends leave. Life doesn’t stop for anybody.” – Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
This quote is especially relevant when you reach your early 20s. It’s a time of instability. It’s a time of moving and growing and giving in and letting go. It’s a time when it’s not just you who’s doing this. All of your friends are, too. The people you went to college with are discovering what makes them happy and, hopefully, are getting out there and doing what they love.
It’s easy to feel sad about all these changes. I’d say that I’m naturally resistant to change. I enjoy the idea of it, but not the actual process. When the moment of change approaches, panic and fear set in. I cling onto what is familiar until I have to let go. It isn’t all at once, though. Pieces of my life change until it feels so much different than before.
But it’s just something everyone has to deal with, and I’d better get used to it.
No one really prepares you for the weirdness of finally leaving the world of academia. I’m sure it will feel even weirder once the spring semester starts at my alma mater. When I see pictures of people who are still there, I don’t know how I’ll feel. I might miss it. I’ll miss parts of it, there’s no doubt about that. But the constant feeling of being behind? Having a long list of assignments hanging over my head? Not so much.
I’ve spent almost my entire life in school. And now I’m done. Not forever, but for a while… Probably a couple of years. (Let’s be real. Most humanities kids know that their bachelors degrees don’t amount to much in the real world.) But I’m so used to the never-ending process of balancing all the different parts of college life. I never even came close to mastering that, by the way. (And I don’t trust people who claim they have.) It’s just so strange to finally be on the other side of something that at times felt impossible. College is great for so many reasons, but I finally feel like maybe it was time to move on.
I had dinner with two of my high school friends last week. It was winter break for both of them, since one’s in grad school and the other is in med school. And there I was, out of school and pretty clueless about what I’m going to do. We talked about how when we’re out of school, time won’t feel as… concrete? So, I was in the class of 2014, and I always thought of 2014 as this huge defining year. It represented all that I was working toward. There was this palpable chunk of time that all led up to this big moment, and then… it’s just life. I’m not working toward a degree anymore, and that’s literally all I’ve ever known. Now there aren’t any grades to be earned or major achievements on the horizon.
Maybe that’s what I need, though. Goals. I’ve always been really terrible at setting and keeping goals, but maybe they would help to define my time. To really get a sense of what I’m doing and where I’m going. To figure out what I truly want to accomplish.
Here’s to coming up with some legitimate goals for this weird post-grad life.