Where the trail ends

Four years is a very neat little time frame.

It doesn’t come with a whole lot of worry. Four years of high school, four years of college. The beginning of each term even brings a sense of comfort. A rocky start doesn’t sound the alarm, because there’s plenty of time to smooth things out. A sophomore slump is expected and embraced as a learning opportunity. You can breathe easy knowing you have a plan; all you have to do is stay on the neat little path laid out for you. Sure, there are some uncertainties there, when dealing with the regrettable consequences of questionable decisions, but even those can be chalked up to inexperience. No one expects you to avoid straying entirely.

And then, after the term is up and you’re shoved out the door and up onto a stage to walk across it in a giant black robe and accept your prize – the trail you’ve been following ends.

There has been a lot of change in my life in recent months and only some of that has come as a result of graduation. I’m at a point where there is no longer any four-year plan laid out for me in an orderly fashion. I don’t have a four-year plan, or a five-year plan or a one-year plan. I have no idea what I’ll be doing in six months time. And I’m learning that that’s okay. Many of the things I thought I knew are not what they were before, and I’m figuring out how to deal with that and move past them. I’m learning to embrace the idea that this is exciting and not solely sad.

And besides those changes, yeah, I moved back in with my parents, (which is a lot different than making macaroni and cheese with my best friends/roommates at 3 a.m.) and I work 40 hours a week, (which is a lot different than having a couple classes a couple times a week) but all of this is just teaching me how to deal with myself. Without the distractions of coursework, nonstop socializing and a college town, I’m spending a lot of time on my own, which can absolutely be a bummer. But once I get past feeling that way, I can start to enjoy hanging out on my own. I’m not so bad to spend time with. If anything, it makes me appreciate the time I spend with friends a whole lot more.

Postgrad life is absolutely 100 percent different from college life, there’s no doubt about that. But it also holds its own kind of excitement, and I can’t help but think that it’s time to let go of the idea of those predetermined four-year paths. I’ll find my way.

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