It has been 12 months and 8 days since the end of college. One full year of real world experience, cut loose from the safety net of college life and cast out into the unfamiliar. Back at the beginning of that transition, the general consensus among my friends, and myself, was this: life is over, this is the worst thing that has ever happened to me, WTF do I do now?
Some of us had jobs lined up, internships looming ahead, or grad school drawing us back into academia. Even before school ended it was clear that the gravitational pull of real life was acting fast, and our small group of friends was soon to be pulled in different directions. No more Thursday night bar takeovers, no more living room pregames with twelve of us sprawled out over couches, chairs, and cross-legged on the floor.
For me, it was an internship 11 states away that happened to turn into a job. For 9 months, I lived a different life. And to be honest, I was shocked at how easily it came to me. Sure I missed my friends, and the occasional sensual trigger would remind me of how good life was just less than a year ago (usually the smell of stale beer), but it was exciting to be on my own experiencing new things, having a job I could tolerate, and earning money (as little as it was). It was more than tolerable; I was learning about life. Real life. Like how to budget money and pay bills, and how much that genuinely sucked — or, how to blend my social, goofy personality in with a professional one and keep my clients coming back.
Flash forward to now and I am back home, in a crisis of faith in what I am meant to do. I am on the cusp of completely abandoning the career path I pictured myself walking along, and starting anew. It is terrifying, no doubt about it, but I’m also warming up to the reality that the whole concept of “what I am meant to do” is an unrealistic concept at my age. I am 23, which still sounds old to me at times because I can remember being 18 and moving into my freshman dorm, but the truth is I’m still an infant in this stage of life. And with any new phase, there are bound to be growing pains and a period of learning the ropes.
Maybe some of this is me trying to comfort myself and hide the sense of panic I have felt coming in waves, but I am also learning a lot of what I consider to be vital lessons on life. Nothing is certain. Shit happens incredibly fast. We have to adapt on a whim. And change is good. It brings along new experiences that mold you into a better, more complex person (hopefully), and for me, it gives me an appreciation for how complex life can be. And there is a beauty in that — in the random and spontaneous.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you’re feeling like me, treading water and uncertain in which direction to swim, I think it’s okay. This is the way it is supposed to be for a lot of us. I hate to use an overplayed analogy, but it is a stepping-stone. And if you take the opportunity to slow down, really think, and enjoy life right now, things will become clearer. Life starts to make a little more sense, even if just for a stray moment or in glimpses. That’s optimistic, isn’t it?