Monday night, I submitted my first graduate school application. Hours before then, at noon, I submitted my first fellowship application. Earlier this evening, I submitted my second fellowship application. Monday night, there was nausea and tears. Tonight, jitters. And I have a feeling all three are not going anywhere anytime soon. And the feeling I have in the pit of my stomach, is beyond fear of rejection, it is rather the combination of recognition and terror. Recognition that I am graduating from college in 4 months. Terror at the fact that no amount of planning mixed with dreaming can truly measure up and prepare me fully for whatever the future has in store.
Excuse my melodramatic tone, but I think today I just realized that this phase of my life…the college phase… is coming to an end. The phase that seemed oh so scary four years ago, is on this weird conveyor belt-like stage until the next phase begins…
Plans can only do so much.
You can plan and plan and plan for everything. You can work hard and be patient. It pays off, it does, but there will always be phases in which you realize you cannot run away. Ironically, we praise the future. We talk about how great it’s going to be. If I had a dollar for all the confidence people have in the future, for themselves, for myself… well I’d have enough money to cover some of these application fees coming up…
We run to the future, thinking that being grown means something easier, fancier, shiny, and bright. We want to make a difference, and yet when those graduate school applications ask us, we tend to draw a blank… Pouting, we fill out how we want to save the world and begin to try to give our hopes and dreams justice in just 500 words, or for the real stressful occasions 1 minute, 250 words, or an elevator ride. And so we find ourselves stuck, applying, studying, waiting, pursuing, stressing, applying, and rinse and repeat… we are strung up in this weird limbo, running away and towards the future at the same time.
Run me back through time.
Writing a dozen essays about your plans for the future will make you reflect a lot about the past. And for the past few weeks of my restful/not so restful winter break, I keep thinking of 10 year old me, and 15 year old me, and 17 year old me. I think of 10 year old me, awkward and growing out of a tomboy phase and into the early stages of womanhood, with no idea of what was going on, and I wish I could appear as myself to my younger self and talk her down from feeling so low and awkward and out of sync with her own spirit. To 15 year old me, I would to her to protect her heart with ferocity. I would tell her to love herself sooner, because the 21 year old would be grateful for it later on…I would tell her to keep her head up… and to rethink the whole bangs idea. To the 17 year old me, I would tell her to talk to her dad more… it would’ve saved her a lot of awkward talks in college.
Running back through time almost feels surreal. You’re running back through the movie that is your life, and then all the sudden you feel like you’re at the credits because you can’t see into the future you don’t know what’s next so it feels so so so so much like the end… and it’s just the beginning… but we don’t get that until after we’ve crossed that line.
But I’m rambling now…sorry….
My point is, whenever a huge transition in our lives is upon us, we get stuck in this limbo.
And I wish that here I could type to solution to solving that feeling in the pit of your stomach that makes you want to run away and towards the future at the same time…but alas I’ve got nothing.. Only the thought that I think it happens a lot more than people would care to admit.
And maybe if we were more honest with how terrified we all are, it’d be more bearable to get through.
Or maybe if we stopped running for a second, and took a moment to reflect, no word or time limit, on everything that has happened to get us to this very moment and place in time… we would come to have a little more faith in the idea that we’ll make it through.
So to all my readers, whether you’re in my boat applying for future jobs, schools, or new opportunities… hold steady, as steady as you can be. The struggle is real, but we all ultimately have to, and will get through it.
P.S : For my college seniors out there, here’s a really cool bucket list from Thought Catalog “13 things to do your last semester of college…”