Real World Says, "Ready or Not, Here I Come"
Here I am almost three weeks out of undergrad life and I have to be honest… I don’t really feel much different.
Yes, I packed up my college house of two years, said all my tearful goodbyes to some of the most amazing people I’ve had the privilege of calling my friends, tied up all loose ends and walked across that stage in my cap and gown to receive that coveted piece of paper (which ironically I won’t even receive for a few more weeks in the mail). Then, just like that, early the next morning the U-Haul was loaded, and I headed four hours south from Kansas to Dallas with my needy meowing cat, Calvin, in tow.
Why don’t I feel any different?
I knew that the month of May was coming for some time and exactly how final all of this would be. My senior year and especially last semester were filled with lasts: my last time being in the library cramming for a final, my last college golf tournament, my last undergrad class, my last time going to McDonald’s at four in the morning, my last time eating at my favorite restaurant in town. (Granted I will come back to visit, but you get the idea.)
I think the main reason I don’t feel my universe completely altering itself is the fact that it’s still summer. I’m used to everyone going their separate ways for May through July and then everything going back to normal in August. The end of this summer could prove to be my ultimate wakeup call moment.
But for some reason, it all seems like we are five years old again and playing make-believe graduation. I’m convinced that no matter how long you prepare yourself for graduating college and leaving the place you called home for four years, you won’t ever be completely ready for this colossal shift your life is about to experience.
It’s easy to get caught up in the negativity or get stuck reminiscing about the best years of your life that are now officially over. And I will probably be somewhat guilty of this in the next few months, but what I’m going to try to do instead is this: embrace the unknown.
Coming from someone who considers her planner a holy artifact and who lives and breathes lists and routines, this plan to embrace the unknown is completely outside my comfort zone. Nonetheless, here is why I think we should embrace this mantra:
1. We can literally do anything (money willing, of course).
For the first time in our 22 years, we do not have the education system dictating when or where we have to be. That time of our lives was meant to prepare us for this very moment. If you want to put off working a year to travel the world, DO IT! If you want to move to a new city where you know no one, DO IT! If you want to become a zookeeper even if your major was political science, you can do that! This lack of structure can be paralyzing or life changing depending on how you approach it.
2. Your career isn’t everything.
As Amy Poehler wisely said in her book, Yes Please (if you haven’t read it, do yourself a favor and go buy it right now), “Career is the thing that will not fill you up and never make you truly whole. Depending on your career is like eating cake for breakfast and wondering why you start crying an hour later.” While this could be taken as cynical, I think it speaks to my first point. This exciting time in our lives is nothing but freedom. This is the time that we can develop passions we discovered in college or find new hobbies we had no idea we liked. This is the time to grow as a person and learn even more about yourself than you have before.
So, buckle up, First Years (yes, a Harry Potter reference)… it’s going to be a year of unknowns.
[Photo by Juliette Kibodeaux.]