It feels much stranger than I thought it would, being finished with school. There is no next class, next paper, next semester. It’s overwhelming. And surreal. For 12 years, I have been working on my “higher education”, and maybe it’s been something of a security blanket. When I graduated high school, there was college in my immediate future; when I had to leave for a few years, there was never any question that I would go back to finish what I started; after undergrad, I went on to get my master’s.
As I sat at my desk ready to submit my thesis, I was so hesitant to hit send and finally let it go. In the days that followed, a strange feeling began to set in. That’s it. I was finished. No longer will I come home at the end of the day and go immediately to my desk to work on multiple assignments and papers. My time is mine, and I’m not entirely sure what to do with it yet. Well, actually, I know many things I want to do, but sitting in my room now, knowing that I can do anything…I’m still adjusting to this new feeling.
Of course, there’s the job search. That panic-inducing process that whispers in my ear that I’m still not good enough, that I should have done more, or less. More to make myself stand out amongst my peers, or less, that perhaps I shouldn’t have done this whole master’s degree at all. That little voice in my head can get so loud. It wakes me up in the middle of the night and makes me toss and turn thinking about my future. I know deep down that everything will work out. I just have to keep moving forward and things will begin to fall into place, and eventually I will forget why I was ever worried in the first place. But in this moment, standing at this crossroads, that’s easier said than done.
I wouldn’t want any of these feelings to be mistaken for unhappiness. I am incredibly excited about the future. I can finally be with my sweet kitty Edgar again. He’s been staying at Lyle’s parent’s house because I couldn’t bring him with me to the apartment I’ve lived in in Brooklyn. I got to see him frequently, but it’s not the same. And speaking of Lyle, for the first time we are going to be looking for a place to live together, after more than two and a half years into our relationship. Even more exciting, we are going to start saving to build our tiny house.
So, for now, with the job search in full swing, and a big move around the corner, I will focus my time and energy on myself. On reading and writing and drawing. Now I have time to exercise and cook, things that, for at least the past few months, have fallen by the wayside. I’d like to find a yoga class to attend once or twice a week. I also want to brush up on my digital photography skills so I can make the most of the amazing new camera my dad gave me as a graduation gift. Before the year is over, I intend on taking some pottery classes like I’ve always wanted to. There are so many things I can fill my time with now. And it’s strangely intimidating.
When I first went to college, I felt so sure of what I wanted to do. Maybe I thought I was supposed to be sure, and I convinced myself that I was. And every misstep, every change of direction, left me feeling like a failure. Or, at best, lost. If I only knew then what I know now, maybe I wouldn’t have been so worried about getting it right. It’s ok to not know. In fact, it’s something I have still been telling people. When asked about what I want to do next, my answer has more often than not been “I’m don’t know yet”. This is mainly because I would be happy doing so many different things, and I’m open to seeing what happens next. But it’s also a little scary knowing that whatever happens next could potentially be a long-term decision. It’s up to me to make that call, but for the first time in my life, that possibility is in front of me.