An insane person came up with the idea that 18-year-olds should decide what they want to do with the rest of their lives.
It baffles me that at such a young age we are expected to figure out what we want to major in and where we will go to school to learn that major. How on earth can I possibly know what I want to do when I have had absolutely no experience in said field I think I might like?
But switching majors or transferring involves staying in school for extra years, more money and a ton of paperwork. It’s easier to just say, “I’ll stick with it for the next few years.”
During my sophomore year, I went through a mid-college-life crisis, and I wanted to change majors. Several people, including my parents, told me not to. Communications is such a broad field, they said. You can do anything you want with it, they said.
I don’t regret not changing. I’ve learned valuable lessons through journalism, especially how to write concisely and accurately, a skill I can use in any job. But what about the other skills and subjects I want to learn? I miss reading and analyzing books like I did in high school. Heck, sometimes I even miss math. Often, classes outside my major didn’t fit into my schedule because I had other requirements to fulfill. And I go to a liberal arts school! Some of my friends at other schools have barely taken any classes outside their majors.
So where am I now? I’m graduating in a week and a half. I’ll be done with college, at least my undergraduate studies, forever. I’m entering an era of uncertainty. How can anyone expect me, at 21, to know what I want to do for the rest of my life?
I don’t know what I will be doing in the next five years, let alone the next year. Will I be in school? Will I have a job? Will I be living at home mooching off my parents? I like plans. I like to know what’s ahead. I like to mentally prepare. But I can’t prepare for the unknown. All I can do is cross that stage (or I guess floor, since I’m graduating in the smaller December ceremony), knowing at least that I’ve put in a ton of hard work to get that degree.
But it’s not even the academic work that challenged me the most. Yes, I had to do a lot, and yes, I cried many times thinking I would never get everything done, or I would never succeed. But college challenged me more deeply than just giving me an endless to-do list. I went through several rough patches. I went to counseling for two years to learn how to deal with my emotions. I had to learn to rebuild my self-esteem and to value and share my feelings, something that seemed so easy and natural to everyone else around me. It made me feel so behind and so alone.
In those two years, I learned a hell of a lot about myself. I’m proud of myself because I’m stronger now than my freshman-self three and a half years ago.
But now I’m holding a compass and watching the needle spin in circles and trying eagerly get it to settle in one direction. I’m out of the Bona Bubble, as St. Bonaventure University people call our tight-knit campus community. I don’t have a bubble anymore. No protection. No friends living next door to me who are going through the same thing. No group of professors five minutes away who can listen to my panic-induced rants (although I’ve been told I can call or skype, so I hope my professors are ready for my virtual meltdowns).
I guess I just have to accept that I’m a college graduate, but I don’t know shit about the rest of my life—yet. I’m going to tell myself that’s okay. Even though it doesn’t feel like it. I have many a lot of big decisions to make. More stress to endure. But I guess that’s all part of life, and it’s okay to be afraid of it. I just have to do what I always do when faced with an intimidating situation. I just have to suck it up and do it anyway, because that’s what I have to do.