Please excuse my tardiness- I haven’t posted for a long time. But I’m hoping to get back into the swing of things! Thanks for being patient.
I graduated from college almost three months ago and let me tell you, it couldn’t have come soon enough. My time at UNC wasn’t a party by any means, and my last semester almost killed me. I had to work through college, sometimes 30 hours a week, maintain good grades in demanding classes (18 hours my last semester) and maintain excellence as Editor-in-Chief for Rival Magazine. Add the stress of applying for real-life jobs, coming to terms with saying goodbyes and trying to figure out post-grad life, and I was stretched beyond my limit. How I crawled past the finish line I’ll never quite figure out. But in the process of swearing off academia forever, I did it. I got my diploma and turned my tassel. And then…
And then I crawled into a ball and cried with relief. I moved out of my apartment in Chapel Hill and essentially became homeless. I have a job waiting for me in Chile, but I don’t start until the middle of August. So I’ve been bouncing around, living with different family members until I “begin” life. Initially I wasn’t excited about waiting three whole months before moving to South America- I didn’t want to get stuck in that hometown lifestyle rut. But surprisingly, taking time off- and I mean REALLY taking time off- has been the best decision possible.
Although I was very aware that I was losing my sanity the last weeks of school, what I didn’t realize is how long it would take to unwind. I was essentially a sloth for the two weeks or so after graduation. I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do, I slept when I wanted to (which was A LOT) and I ate whenever. Boredom began to rear its ugly head, and I almost welcomed the unfamiliar face. But then, very slowly in between being busy doing nothing, feelings I thought I dealt with crept to the surface: old family issues, broken friendships, deep-rooted pain… it turns out I had been too busy to deal with some things properly. And it was time to come to terms with as many as them as I could.
Cue the existential crisis. In an effort to fully articulate my opinions to myself on charged issues such as religion, morality, ethical codes, politics and what it means to be happy, etc., I’ve never been so distraught. Never. Without having any distractions of school or looming deadlines or work (which hasn’t happened in 17 years), I’ve spent my summer questioning everything I am, everything I want to do, and everything I’ve done. I’ve been randomly bursting into tears and uncontrollably avoiding friends, but I’m so pleased that I’m working through stuff.
While I’m not sure I’ll ever figure everything out, I can honestly say this summer has provided me a wonderful opportunity to discover myself. I am more content than I have been in a while and sincerely think that all college grads need a similar opportunity. To be away from friends, away from the normal swing of things, away from a structure and to have some time to just be. If I had done a summer camp or another type of summer program, I would have had an experience similar to my past summers: full of responsibility and learning and socializing.
Which of course isn’t a bad thing. But if I’m always going from one thing to the next, I might be halfway through my life before realizing I’d rather be doing something else. Or if I hide from my demons instead of facing them, maybe I won’t have a fulfilling life. And that’s my greatest fear.
But as I’m prepping to leave for Chile in a few weeks and start my “real” life, I feel more confident than ever. And I feel it fully and with vigor. I’m completely untethered and have no idea where I’m going to end up, but I’m filled with the spirit of adventure and am more ready for anything that I’ve ever been.