For most pre-adults (because that’s what most of us in our 20s are—like adult larvae) university is a warm cocoon where we are sheltered from life’s real problems. Just ask any grad school applicant why they are continuing their education and “I don’t know what else to do” will factor somewhere in the answer, at least in my experience. As the thought of going to grad school made me want to hurl myself out of Robarts’ highest window, I’ve decided that it’s time my post-secondary education came to an end for now, which opens up an area of new opportunities and, because it’s me, deep-seated anxieties.
My upcoming university graduation has filled me with all sorts of emotions: relief, dread, anxiety, and especially nausea (which to me is an emotion). It seems like the deadline to figure out what I want to do with my life is fast approaching and I’m no nearer to an answer than I was when I finished high school. When friends, relatives, and nine-year-olds realize that I am not continuing on with school, the prevailing question is “So what are you going to do?” The latter suggested that I become a belly dancer (which I am not ruling out juuuust yet—times might get desperate). I really wish people would stop asking me this. I mean, I get that you might be curious or caring but I really don’t know what I am going to do in the long run so you’re just contributing to the ever-expanding stress rash on my chest.
For now, though, I’m going to stay at the part-time job that I have had since I was in high school (while completing the ever-annoying one more credit needed for graduation). There’s a weird mix of pride and shame that comes from telling people that you are staying at the job you have had since you were 16. On the one hand, at least I have a job, and it provides for my almost debilitating addiction to the Gap, but on the other hand most of my coworkers are literally children. The fact that I don’t have something more concrete and long-term planned out keeps me up at night and contributes to my aforementioned rash; I’m not the type of person who likes to see large empty spaces in the calendar. The fact that I really don’t know where my life (and where my bank account) is going to be in six months fills me with an unnamed dread.
Reading this back, I realise that it sounds like I really don’t want to leave school. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t see a happier graduate come November 2014. I suppose what I’m trying to get across in this piece is that I’m afraid. I’ve only been equipped to face challenges as they appear in academia—a warm space that more or less invites me to learn at my own speed. As I approach the bright light of adulthood, I also approach a world where I will have to learn lessons very quickly, and often when I’m not ready for them. Now that I think of it, I’m not really leaving school, I’m just moving on to a different type of graduate school: one where the learning never ends, and you never leave (until The End, that is). When I move the crippling anxiety aside, I almost think I’m excited. Life is going to kick my ass, and I can’t wait.