I’m finally on the cusp of graduating college, and for the first time ever, I’m striking out completely on my own. I even have a lease for my own apartment in Williamsburg and am starting grad school in a little over a month.
However, I really don’t want that to become my identity. I don’t want that to be my only interest. One of my biggest character flaws is my indecisiveness. I rarely feel 100% sure of any decision I make, and that causes a lot of hesitating and feeling uneasy about most things that I do.
Applying that issue to my current state, I’m so unsure of the future that I really have no choice but to leave it up to God. I’m almost two and a half years into a fairly serious relationship with my boyfriend, but I don’t want to be rushed into making major life changing decisions quite yet. I also want to teach kids eventually, which is why I’m getting my Master’s now. But, I also want to do research about cultures and people, travel the world, and go on adventures, taking pictures and writing along the way. I’m not ready for the “settled down” image that comes with going to grad school.
When a college student heads down that path, everyone assumes they’re going to pursue one thing that they will do for the rest of their life. Undergrad is the time where you feel out your interests, and grad school is where it really gets to the serious stuff. Med school students become doctors, law school students become lawyers, and elementary ed students become elementary school teachers.
But that isn’t what I want. Yes, I do see myself someday standing in front of a classroom of fourth or fifth graders, with a whiteboard and educational posters and lesson plans. But I don’t want to be that just yet. I want to be adventurous and spontaneous. I want to wake up every morning not knowing what I’m going to do that day, but ready to take it on wholeheartedly. I want to be constantly meeting new people, seeing new sights, and pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
So because of this constant struggle between wanting to be comfortable, but not too comfortable, I have a real dilemma. I’m already committed to doing this Master’s program, but what if I get halfway through it, and decide I don’t want to teach after all? Since my decisions are always hesitant, it’s so difficult to be confident in anything I choose.
Between the semester I came back from Italy and now, I’ve viewed college as just racking up a few more credits and getting the heck out. But now that I can so clearly see the end of the tunnel, it’s starting to make me antsy and edgy. I thought I wanted to leave, but it seems that I’m getting graduation goggles.
If you’ve ever seen How I Met Your Mother, the show I’ve been binge watching on Netflix lately, there’s one episode where they talk about graduation goggles. It’s this phenomenon where you are about to leave a relationship, a job, or a school, and right before you leave it, you doubt yourself. You start to see all the awesome things about it that you’re never going to have again, and the bad things that made you want to leave have seemingly disappeared.
This is exactly what’s happening to me now, as I’m coming up on one more week of classes. I’m starting to realize that never again will I live so conveniently close to so many people my own age. I won’t be able to walk five feet to my friends apartment and have a movie night (unless I’m on the cast of Friends). Instead of walking three minutes to see Tom, I’ll be making the hour drive from Williamsburg to Richmond. I will no longer be able to walk from one point to another and run into ten different people that I know.
I didn’t really put any value on the community I’ve had at my school. I was solely focused on all the things I didn’t like about it: the fact that most people come from privileged backgrounds and have shallow, superficial views of things, the fact that there’s so much stress in the air when you walk into the library that it feels like a literal fog has settled that you have to swim through to get to a chair, the fact that everyone was just so darn selfish. It’s not completely the students’ fault. That’s just how they were raised, the way we’ve been taught to treat our schoolwork, and the way we’ve been told to act in college.
That’s right, I’ve actually heard the advice that this is the one time in your life when you have license to be selfish. Do what you want, follow your heart. All that nonsense. Personally, I fall into this trap sometimes. I chose an International Studies major over a Biology major partly because I didn’t want to have to put in the extra effort required to study science. My freshman and sophomore years, I was thinking only of myself and didn’t think about how my actions may affect people around me, people that I love.
Honestly, I don’t know what else to say about all this. I guess all I hope for is the strength to get through whatever’s next.