When I was still in high school, this guy who was my deskmate said to me, “You’ve been to a few countries, haven’t you? That’s amazing, I wish I could do that too.”
At the time, I’d smiled and nodded. I hadn’t really been to many countries, but somehow he’d assumed it and taken it as fact, and I didn’t really want to correct him.
Fast forward ten years later, and he’s traveling the world. Renting a car to drive along the coast of exotic Eastern European countries, hitchhiking with random strangers to the middle of nowhere, living life. And now I’m the one wishing I could do that too.
Strangely, when I’d submitted my last assessment online on Friday, I’d felt nothing. Not elation at having completed another pain-in-the-ass paper, not anxiety at possibly doing really badly, but nothing. And then when the twenty-five pages plopped into the drop off box, I suddenly felt a sense of loss. I’d just finished my postgraduate degree and now I had no idea what was next.
See, even when I had worked as a copywriter, I knew it was temporary; I had plans to go for further studies. I had no idea when, or where, but I knew it was a done deal. I was doing it. Who knew one year would go by so quickly? In the blink of an eye it’s July again, and in just a mere six months I’m turning twenty-five. That’s quarter of a century of formal education, of studying, sheltered from the outside world. Whatever happened didn’t matter, my studies and my grades were all that did. Everything revolved around the next class, the next deadline; I was stressed out of my mind half the time, especially during my year of postgraduate studies, but it was good stress. It was stress I was familiar with, stress I’d known for the past twenty years.
And now that I’m expected to go out into the world and put these past twenty-five years to good use, I’m scared out of my mind. Scared of being not getting a job, of not getting a job relevant to my degree, of not getting a job that will allow me to comfortably support me and my family.
Because isn’t this what we’re supposed to do? We are born, we study for two decades, we come out and get a comfortable job which we stay at for another three decades or so, we retire, we die.
My peers back in high school seem well-adjusted in comparison. They’re flourishing in their careers, getting married, having babies. And here I am, faffing about with a postgraduate degree and nothing else to my name. What have I done these past few years? It seems as though everyone else is halfway through the marathon while I’m still at the starting line struggling with putting one foot in front of the other.
I’ve got a postgraduate degree to my name, yet I feel like a newborn babe. What now, what’s next? It’s time I stopped running away from the world.