The idea of graduation always felt like a lightyear away until about three months ago. I tasted a drop of the unknown last spring, after having six rounds of Skype interviews with an advertising agency of my dreams, then eventually turning down their internship offer. Why? Timing, among other things such as the unfathomable living expenses in NYC. But now, being in the throes of woe is me and wondering what kind stranger will reply to my unsolicited LinkedIn messages, I feel the presence of a cloud above my head that may or may not release a thunderstorm upon me. Hopefully clear skies will emerge through it all.
The end of college mimics the end of high school in certain ways, minus the burden of being entirely responsible for my livelihood and taxes. While we once had to declare our intended profession at the mere age of eighteen, now we are expected to follow through with that decision as we pack our belongings into our Volkswagen and travel the distance of over a thousand miles away from home. Or is that just me?
I applied to Teach for America last month. I spent about two hours on personal essays, then another hour interviewing with a TFA alum, then another two hours completing an online assessment. When I was invited to attend the final interview, I surprised myself and declined. Not only would I have to miss class, but I was afraid of potentially contributing to an unethical practice of replacing experienced educators with fresh, naive undergraduates to serve low-income communities. Also, the odds were against me. Their acceptance rate is strikingly low, so I decided to save myself the eight hours and attend my statistics lecture instead. But the one thing that tugs on my subconscious now and then is the perplexed look on people’s faces when I shared this “sudden”, “newfound” interest of mine. Apparently, our college major defines us, embodies us, and places us in a tightly wrapped package of expectation and convention.
I refuse to succumb to that.
I have a million little dreams floating around while I fight through sleepless nights, while I drive through my hometown, or even while I’m pretending to listen. My dreams can rudely interrupt at times, but at least they are persistent. The reason I originally pursued Teach for America is because one of those pesky ambitions is to fight the injustice of education inequity. I want to evoke a fire in impressionable students, and break down the barriers of privilege. But I also dream to champion animal rights, write a novel, be a student affairs professional, a community advocate, a marine biologist, an entrepreneur, a playwright, and maybe even manage a marketing campaign or two. Graduation can seem lackluster, because those possibilities can appear dimmer as we are shoved into a discipline and away from our childhood. My indecisiveness prevails, but so does my desire to make a difference. Don’t get me wrong, I’m filled with pride to be earning a business degree. But my ten year old voice haunts me while I cross my fingers that I’ve taken the right steps.
I’m choosing to embrace the beauty of uncertainty, and revel in the joy of this unfamiliar phase. The essence of humanity is capricious. We are unequivocally evolving in response to our circumstances. Like the sun, we rise and set in a faintly nuanced hue and rhythm each day. The only difference is no one ever judges the sky for it’s unpredictable habits. Before you ask someone what they plan to do with their lives with a preconceived notion, consider them like a sunset instead. Before you attempt at fitting into a unbreathable corner, consider yourself malleable and magical instead. After all, what fun is it to live a predetermined life?
I hope I am able to check off a few tasks from my to-do list. At the same time, I feel a comfort in knowing that it will forever be a draft. Even if my job description will never include swimming with dolphins, I hope I can still make a colorful ripple in the world.
I hope you can too.