The photos are taken, applications received, and there is just one short walk across a stage standing between me and graduation. The culmination of six years of being a university student, attending lectures, writing papers, running on empty for weeks on end, all come to a close at 12 pm on April 20. There is a rather mundane sense of finality about this fact, as if it’s not the one thing I have been working towards for years. I suppose the significance of the moment will hit me as I cross the stage in the bright blue gown this June. Perhaps it won’t. What I am feeling now, in this moment, as I try to swallow such emotions down, is the surmounting anxiety at a directionless life, with an ocean of possibilities in front of me.
Since the age of five, I have followed the same schedule—school from September to June, and later September to April. At nearly 24, that schedule has finally run its course. Now, all I see in front of me is a boundless string of time, which sounds incredibly dramatic, I know. But when you are unsure of what you want to do in life and where you want to go, all that time is like a cliff’s edge. You can approach it with anything from joyful curiosity to downright terror.
I’ve got job alerts pinging my phone every hour of the day for positions I may or may not be qualified for, at companies I have only ever dreamed of working at. I rethink my decision to not go to grad school at least once a week. I have only the vaguest idea of what I want to do (write? gaming? marketing? events?) and a resumé that consists of one Bachelor’s degree and a lot of retail experience. “Where is that going to get me?” is my constant refrain as I get rejected for not having enough experience in the industry, yet unable to find a job that gets me that experience. I have a retail job that I love, but I am eager for a new challenge and now, as they say, the world is my oyster.
This time in my life simultaneously marks several endings and a multitude of new beginnings. As someone who used to be petrified of change, and relied on routine to give sense to my life, I expected to be catatonic in a corner somewhere as the end of my final year drew nearer. While that’s not to say that there isn’t any worry or uncertainty, I am embracing it. I am interested in just about everything, and now I can do just about anything. I am no longer a creative student, I’m a creative professional (just check the business cards)!
What keeps my head above water now is the knowledge that everyone else I know is in the same boat. A bit scared, a bit unsure, a bit stressed. Cliché of clichés, I am not alone. I know some of my peers already have full-time jobs lined up. If they can do it, why can’t I? I have so many other role models who may have fumbled a bit but are doing work they love. I can do that too. I have been afforded so many opportunities and privileges in my life that I am ready to acknowledge and take advantage of so I can find my place, even if it takes a few detours.
It’s kind of exciting, not knowing what’s coming next, but being open to any opportunity that comes my way. I know it will be tough, and discouraging, but I am looking towards the best possible future. For now, I’ve got a few more things to finish up before I can really say, “I’m done!”, but I know come June, I will be walking that stage confidently into a world of possibility.
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