Thoughts From the Eve of Graduation

For Those Who Wander Lost is a blog-site dedicated to the Class of 2013 but with enough room for guest contributors to share their pearls of wisdom, advice, rants, and stories about college life and beyond. Posted here with permission by the author, the talented Starshine5050 of MoarPowah.com–where she posts some lovely movie, music, and video game reviews!  Now I’ve got her writing up some inspirational words for the graduating class of 2013, haha

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It’s hard to imagine what a world unknown must have felt like to settlers and colonists, who set out to find things completely unknown to them. The closest I have ever got to understanding the feeling was when watching Star Trek. The intrepid crew of the USS Enterprise would go out every week to explore new, unseen worlds with hope, dread, and calm preparedness.

On the eve of my graduation from college, I can say I’m feeling two out of those three. You can guess which.

Once upon a time, I was a freshman, just like everyone was at one time or another. I thought that four years at one school was going to be an eternity – after all, my high school career had only really been three years long due to the large population of kids in the area. I thought I was never going to figure out my place, that I’d be homesick and miserable forever, that I’d wanna go home every weekend until the very end. Before I even realized it had happened, I had somehow found my place, my own little routine in a big and very daunting university.

Looking back on the kid I used to be, I changed so much. And now I am here, on the eve of my graduation, unsure of how to feel about it.

My first thoughts are of regret about all the things I never got to do. I never swam in the gym’s swimming pool. I didn’t see enough plays or musicals. I should have joined more clubs. I should have tried that one pizza place. I should have taken this class. I should have gone to these places. I should have tapped these resources. I should have gotten better grades. I should have made more friends. I should have been more daring. I wasted my golden opportunity.

It’s a silly thought, isn’t it? That I only have one golden opportunity in life and that it came around at 20. That what I did and didn’t do in college is going to define everything I do from here until my dying day, that I’ll never get to live again after this, just go into the drudge of human existence that we call adulthood with blind but begrudging submission until retirement strikes and I’ll be too old to do any of the things I wanted. Life doesn’t end after college. From what I heard from said adult humans, it only begins.

Then comes thoughts of fear. Will I get a job? When? Will I be a sadsack who mopes around her parent’s home for months looking for work, any work at all? Should I have applied more seriously to graduate schools? Am I going to be the 2% who fail and fall to the wayside to die alone and bitter and being a total burden on society?

I’d like to note that is in my total depression and paranoia that I came up with the 2% figure. In fact, I have no idea how many people do or don’t soar with the eagles in their post-college careers. Maybe 98% is low-balling it. Maybe it’s too damn high. It sure feels like everyone’s got an internship or job or graduate school they’ve got all lined up and I’m floundering just to find any positions I would actually be good for. Should I get a job in my small town to try and make a little money? Wouldn’t that be a waste of my very expensive private school education? Doesn’t thinking like that make me a snob?

I’ve chosen to write for a living, because it’s something I do naturally, compulsively everyday. The only issue is that writing is not exactly the most sustainable of careers and it makes me wish I had been born to be a concert violinist or a physicist, or a lawyer. If you believe in that kind of thing, that is. I don’t know if I do, but I imagine that it would bring me great comfort in a time like this – to believe I had been born to be a writer and that because of that it was going to have to somehow work out for me.

Come next week, all my friends from college will be scattered across the country, maybe even the world. Some will come back for their second, third, or final year of college, others will be like me – living in the graduate life of gathering infinite pieces to a puzzle whose image is a mystery to you. I will be digging, praying, hoping for a job or an internship, bugging professors for any open positions, to find help to get into places. I will be right back at the beginning of freshman year all over again, except there will be no structured classes or upper classmen to help me – I will be forced to stand solely on my own two feet.

I wonder if someday, when things get better, when I get over this hump and wind up on the other side somewhere, doing something, if I’ll look back on this post and wonder how I could be so pessimistic about my future, to believe that I would spend the rest of my life laying on a couch in my parents house. Maybe I’ll be exactly where I am now the next time I sit down to read this – worried about the future, jobless, anxious. There’s really no way to know.

It is a lonely feeling that we all share – each a little different than the other, hard to express and raw, so raw that it often leads to tears and anger. Life is hard to deal with – it requires effort and balance and strength that feels sometimes so Herculean you have to wonder how anyone does any living at all. Everyone around you smiles but you can tell that half of it isn’t genuine. And not everyone is sad to leave – some people can’t wait to get out and go and live their lives. I just happen to not be one of them.

I’m going to end this post on a happy note, because tomorrow it’s going to all smiles and celebrations and parents with cameras in the park. Our lives are like the voyages on Star Trek where we go into a vast expanse of new worlds and experiences. They are scary, and we don’t know what horrors or delights await us at every new step of the journey. But we do not go into that final frontier alone.

Warp speed ahead.

– S. R-M, aka Starshine5050

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