i remember when i was a freshman, looking at the seniors— jealous because they had it figured it out. and for the one millionth time in my life, i was wrong.
yes, when you’re a senior you understand how office hours work and you aren’t ordering purely vodka cranberries and you do know much, much more about who you are. but the question of what you will be when you grow up and who you are becoming is not fully answered. because you’re only 22 and while that might have sounded pretty old when you were 12, you feel still feel so unbearably young.
and every adult will ask you what you’re doing after graduation and some people know and a lot of people don’t and every single time it comes up you will get a little bit closer to screaming.
and when graduating high school felt like a promise, graduating college feels more like a free fall. because what’s next is a question and an entire lifetime and that’s not something four years of school can ever fully prepare you for.
the truth is, it’s scary. terrifying to put it lightly. the safe regiment of school that we have huddled into for the past 16 years is about to be stripped away and we’re not really sure what’s underneath. we feel very young and strangely old at the same time. we have always just known the next step of our lives. from elementary school to middle school to high school to college, life has moved in 3 or 4 year increments. there have always been deadlines and timelines and time limits. we knew that this too would pass and life would move and so would we, to the next chapter, next chapter, next predetermined chapter within the safety of our table of contents. but after you graduate from college, there is no singular correct next step. at least, i don’t think there is anymore. there are beautiful, unlimited, endless, incredible options. and that, is a little nauseating. the structure and expectations we have held ourselves to our entire lives has fallen away to reveal opportunities that sound like change and taste like uncertainty. and we hate that. or we love it. it depends on the day.
people will tell you to enjoy right now and they will tell you to focus on the future in the same breath. they will say these are the best days of your life and tell you that your future is so bright right after one another. they will say don’t worry it will all work out and begin a lecture on preparedness and forward-thinking. and none of it makes it a lot of sense. because quite frankly, i don’t think anyone really knows how to navigate change. we suck at that as humans. we crave rigidity and structure and even those of us who claim that we don’t, are probably lying a little bit. and they will hand down their well-intentioned advice and smile knowingly at your fear, dismiss it as unnecessary and you might feel more lost than ever.
i guess i don’t really have any advice. i’m sure you’ve heard it all by now anyways. all i have is just hopefully a somewhat comforting anecdote. you’re feeling a little scared? same. slightly overwhelmed? same. also so incredibly excited that sometimes you can’t sleep? same.
we’re all in the same rocking, tumultuous, messy little boat. and i’m about 98.7% sure, that yes— this too shall pass.