Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Confessions of a College Graduate

So the time has finally come. Last month I was handed the desired piece of paper that says I can now be taken seriously. I’ll finally be a college graduate! After six long years of contemplation and uncertainty, along with spending semesters free of classes so I could gallivant around, liberating my mind and working at coffee shops, while completely ignoring the touchy topic called, “the future”.
Yes, this way of living put me a couple of years behind my peers and where society says I should be by this point in my life. I used to think this was because I am the most indecisive person I know. But now I know and found the courage to admit this wasn’t true. I may have changed my major 3 times and switched schools 4 (one of which was re-enrolling in the initial one I started in), however I can’t put the sole blame on me neglecting the ability to make up my own mind, not when I hold so much self-criticism inside of me. When a career path started to appear too rigid, too questionable or impractical, I lost faith in myself and quit. Have you ever reached a point in your progress where you can no longer see the end so you take ten giant steps backwards instead? I have and this is what I did when the future started to become fuzzy and people criticized me for my impractical choice of career path because it could never possibly get me a stable job.
I think my biggest post-graduate fear is that I’ll be spending the rest of my life working to pay off the loans I took out to go to school to get the job I need to pay my mortgage (rent most likely) and car bills, and gas to drive the car I need to get to the job I need to pay for the car and the house and the loans, and ultimately not having any time to enjoy life and love and travel or go on adventures. I’m afraid all this debt I’ve built up in order to get a piece of paper that says I’m officially qualified to live is what’s going to put me in a cage and I’ll never be truly free. But then I thought to myself, everybody does this. People do this all the time. So why wouldn’t I be able to?
What am I so afraid of? More so, why am I even afraid? Why do I do this to myself; degrading everything I’ve accomplished, all the hard work I’ve put into it just because I didn’t end up in the position I had planned to be in 6 years ago? Why do I feel like in a way, I failed? Probably because I’m human. I, like all of you, have grown up in a society where success is measured by how much money we have in our pockets, how big our houses are and what kind of car we own. If I don’t have these things, I’m programmed to feel like I failed.
Maybe I’m na├»ve but to me, success is serenity. It’s self-love. It’s knowing very well that you aren’t perfect, you never will be, and being completely content with that.  It’s admiring oneself and one’s achievements no matter how “little” you may think they are. It’s living our lives at our own pace, instead of comparing ourselves to others. Success is valuing life and the people in it far more over money and materials. It’s treasuring a smile on the face of someone you love, knowing it’s worth more than a lifetime’s salary. I didn’t learn that in college, but this is what I plan on building my success on.
              I can’t count how many people congratulated me, people I had never met before in my life. I knew then that this graduating from college thing was actually a big deal, a giant step in the right direction, the turning of the last page of this chapter of my life. I refuse to let fear take away my right to feel successful. I finished the chapter, had to re-read a lot of pages, but I finished it. Time to start a new one. The difference now is the pages are blank. I guess the only thing left to do is pick up a pen and write it myself.