When most students graduate college, at least those who are not immediately embarking upon adventures in graduate school, they experience a plethora of emotions. First, accomplishment. We are members of the 22% of Americans with a bachelor’s degree. That’s not a huge percentage, and a four-year degree is a big accomplishment. Second, freedom. I used Wikipedia as a source for the statistic in the previous point, and it felt goooood (actually it didn’t, and I’m itching to go find a more reliable source, but that would defeat my purpose). Taking that last final and realizing we will be able to read for pleasure again, or not read at all if we so choose, creates a sense of euphoria. Third, anxiety. After the “school’s out” high wears off, we begin to wonder what we’re going to do with our shiny new degrees, a prospect that can be terrifying. The economy is still struggling, and the market is flooded with degree-holding job seekers, some of whom have the real-world experience that puts them ahead of younger graduates.
Luckily, I fall into the category of recent graduates with real-world experience and I landed a terrific job in the exact field I wanted. Not only does this mean I get to do something I love, it means I get to stick my tongue out at all the naysayers who claim a liberal arts education is worthless in the current economic climate.
So, you might ask, what’s my problem? My problem is that I’m only a few weeks past that stressful “last” final, and I already miss it. Not because I don’t like my job, and not because I hate the “real world,” but because there is still so much to learn. If there is a downside to my job, it’s that I read all day and am not terribly inclined to read for pleasure (or education) at home (at least not yet, I know I have plenty of time to adjust). But while I was in school, there was always something new, even if it was something I didn’t like, and there was always something to talk about. While technical writing is precisely what I went to school for and I love it (most aspects of it, anyway) it does not make for terribly enthralling dinner conversation. I was inspired at school … I would come up with new ideas all the time or jot down things to write about or books to read “when I graduate.” Now that the time has come, I find myself struggling with what to read, or write, or do with my spare time.
I find myself looking for “the next big milestone.” My brain seems to have a checklist (as I’m sure many other brains have), and now that it’s ticked off “graduate” and “get a job” it’s searching for the next accomplishment to cross off the list. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s making me a little nuts. I’m so overwhelmed with worrying about the next big thing, I’m not taking the time to enjoy my life as it is right now. I can pay my bills, I have a caring network of family and friends, and if there is any justice my son will have his driver’s license in a couple of weeks and I will no longer be a taxi service. (Okay, that last one comes with its own anxiety, but it’s been a long time coming and I am ready for that boy to drive.)
My solution is this: just chill. I can write a book if I want to, and it doesn’t have to be this week. I can move to a nicer place if I want to, but my current place isn’t bad and I’ll save money by staying there anyway. I just need to breathe for a while, and exist in the now.