When I was 15 years old someone told me that my junior year of high school would be my hardest year ever. I didn’t understand how that was possible. I knew for a fact that no year would be harder than seventh grade (lots of books, My Chemical Romance, shitty poetry, and crying myself to sleep).
But then junior year happened. I got the least amount of sleep and the most amount of stress. I cried in my car a lot and hated most people. My number one fear was answering the question: So, what are you doing after graduation?
I knew I still wanted to attend school out of state (out of the country) but it began to seem impossible.
But I got through junior year, and senior year I got admitted to DePaul University in Chicago, IL with a scholarship big enough to make moving possible.
But now I’m in my junior year all over again and my number one fear is answering the question: So, what are you doing after graduation?
This question is a tool of the devil.
No, I’m not being dramatic. The devil loves fear, and nothing puts more fear in me at the moment than what my plans are post graduation.
The question itself is stupidly phrased.
What am I doing after graduation?
What am I doing to support myself financially?
What am I doing to apply my degree to my actual work?
What am I doing to apply my education to my life and the lives of others?
What am I doing when I’m not quietly crying on public transportation thinking about if I’m getting too old to birth children and if I get breast cancer how to best treat it and if I’m a functional alcoholic or just drink too much?
I hate this question because truthfully everyone who doesn’t have access to a trust fund will answer: working.
But those asking this horrible question already know I’ll be working. What they really want to know is if my fancy pants private school liberal arts degree will actually get me some special place doing special work I actually like, or in other words: Is your expensive degree actually worth anything?
Many graduates would say no, but many graduates would say yes, and I’d say the reasons for both those answers would be very similar.
I owe a lot of my personal growth to my university. There are people I’ve met and ideas I’ve explored here that I wouldn’t have been able to had I stayed home and gone the full-time/multiple job route. Because of this I say, yes! My impending student debt is worth the stress.
I owe a lot of money to the government thanks to my university. There are things I will never get and places I’ll never be able to visit that I might have been able to had I stayed home and gone the full-time/multiple job route. Because of this I say, no! My impending student debt is not worth the stress.
At the end of every stressful day, I’m still thankful for the opportunity. I do not take it for granted.
However, I only have one year remaining after this year, and I barely know what I’m gonna eat (if I’m gonna eat) dinner tonight, let alone “what my plans are after graduation”. As of right now I just actually want to graduate. That alone is a huge achievement. Why do I have to prepare for then, right now?
Apparently my subconscious is even more freaked out than I am, as today marks the fifth night in a row that I’ve dreamt of someone grilling me about my future plans, not accepting “I don’t know” for an answer, until I ugly cry uncontrollably in public.
I’ve started to tease the people who ask me what my plans are after graduation.
“Ask me again later.”
“Hopefully not die young.”
“Getting some sleep.”
“Sorry I blacked out.”
And oh! How we laugh! But after a few forced chuckles, that person will resume eye contact, in all seriousness, waiting for my thoughtful response.
And so I think, ya know what –
I don’t know what I’m doing after graduation.
I want to still have my own bed, a hot shower, and access to bowls of cereal whatever damn time of the day I want some, but that might be too much to ask.
But I have a better question, what the hell are your plans for right now?
What are you doing with your life?
How have you grown or developed mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? And financially? Hmm?
Who have you helped besides yourself and those you like?
Do you still mind your own business?
Are you aware that you’ve drifted out of your lane?
Would you kindly return to it?
But I guess that’s rude.
But that question is rude.
I don’t know the details yet, but I’m well aware that postgraduate life will consist of multiple jobs, starting payments on my student loans, and working on my writing/blogging. Throw in random escapades and therapeutic complaining with my friends, and there’s my postgraduate life in all its glamour.
I do know that I’m officially chalking this question up on the list of things I refuse to do to the next generation and especially my own children (if they happen). It’s just unfair, uncomfortable, and does nothing but rattle an already shaken cage. I’ll remind them that it’s okay to be scared and have no idea because you’re always gonna be a little scared and have no idea. We can plan and plan, but most of the time we’re just figuring things out as we go. Survival is second, and thriving is first. Live. Do what makes you feel better and makes surviving worth the stress.
Because surviving is a hell of a lot of stress.
Anyway, enough about me.
So, what are you doing after graduation?