“It is almost impossible to make fun of your hometown without making fun of the people in it. The people who shaped, loved and helped you grow up–not just your parents but neighbors, elementary school teachers, family friends–they all helped. Making fun of your hometown doesn’t make you look “cool” for outgrowing it, it makes you look ungrateful for not appreciating it,” ~Molly Ford.
I saw this Postsecret the other day, and it made me think of myself.
Though this summer seems quite simple to the typical viewer, to me it is extraordinary–a milestone. This is the last summer of a significantly, excruciatingly long chapter of the novel called, “My Life.” Perhaps you’ve heard of it… there are about 7 billion sequels, though each one varies in length and content… many are being continuously edited. To the reader, Summer 2012 may resemble those extra pages at the end of the chapter that for some are crucial to the story, and for others are just unnecessary details in order to increase book length. For many of my friends, this summer has already marked the beginning of a new chapter in their life novels– you know, sort of like the first couple of pages of a new book, where the reader wonders, “Hmm, is this going to get more interesting or exciting anytime soon? Should I continue reading, or should I move onto something else?” I’m twenty-two and about to graduate college with a Bachelor’s Degree. The way I was brought up (as well as a vast majority of middle class Americans), this expensive investment of a piece of paper is considered the key to success, and the ultimate key to independence. I’ve been so ready for so long, but now that I can literally count down the months on one hand, I find my inner Goddess slowly reciprocating back into her dark hole in the ground, pleading, “Wait, not yet. I’m not quite ready just yet!”
But the truth is that I’m so ready, more than ready. In fact, I’m so ready that my conscience is practically screaming, “PLEASE JUST FAST FORWARD TO SEPTEMBER 2013, PRETTY PLEASE!!” Because let’s face it, when it comes down to it, plain and simply, I’m just scared, because I’ve always, ALWAYS, had a plan. And now there is no plan. There are goals, there are ambitions, there are mountains of paperwork and applications to fill-out, but there are no plans. And that my friends is what is so exciting– and so scary!
As the summer progresses, and we are quickly transitioning to mid-July, and I am only a month shy of beginning my final semester (and student teaching) at UWO, I find myself pondering now more than ever about the future. I had one goal when I returned from France two years ago: Go Back. Two years later, I guess that’s still the goal, but I have been throughly thinking about that particular goal now more than ever. My friends are buying cars, moving in with their significant others, relocating cross-country for grad school or Grown-up Jobs, traveling, or perhaps finishing up the particular chapter of life that is undergrad, just like me. It’s encouraging to see so many positive transitions of people for whom I care about ever so deeply…
I’ve been happier than I have felt in a long time living at home this summer. Perhaps it’s my job security–by that I simply mean having the privilege to be working at a job that I know like the back of my hand, at a business where I am trusted to uphold a leadership position, and working alongside co-workers who have quickly become valued friends. Perhaps it’s the fact that I never lost touch with many high school friends, and have had a chance to continue, improve, or rekindle many relationships from years ago. It could be the fact that the relationship I have with my parents is at its peak– probably the best it’s ever been. It could be that even at twenty-two I have a well-developed yet ever-changing sense of identity– I (sort of) know what I want, at least at this point in life. Overall, I believe that I have finally come to appreciate the place from which I have for so long wanted to flee… I have come to embrace its perks, its beautiful people, and its ever-growing sense of community. I’m happy to be here, and I’m grateful to have grown up here. The connections I have made, the accomplishments I have achieved, the legacy I have left, lingers. And the impact my home town has made on me, remains. The end of this summer truly marks the blossoming of adulthood. Yes, the law states that at 18 I have the right to all those perks (besides engaging in alcoholic beverages), but I truly believe that adulthood is an excruciatingly looooonnngggggggg transition, truly beginning when one is completely capable of supporting oneself. And now the question ever lingers, “Am I truly ready to leave this place? Do I even want to? Is going back abroad truly the answer to success and happiness?”
If there’s any one piece of advice I have received from adults upon hearing my postgrad goals or plans of leaving the country, it is, “Good for you. Do it while you’re young, single, childless, and have no mortgage or other major fiscal responsibilities,” or, “If there’s one thing I regret, it’s not studying abroad or traveling extensively after college. Do it, and do it now.” However, the idea of a secure salary, pension, not being a dependent on my parents’ healthcare, a vehicle under MY own name, an apartment all to myself, a Queen-sized bed, and complete financial independence, is starting to become more appealing than ever before. (I guess that’s what you call growing up, eh?) I am almost positive that deep down, I know I am still going to go abroad come September 2013. Have I also mentioned that the letters, “NYC,” have been dwindling in the back of my head for some time now? (Please, oh please don’t rain on my parade about this one.) I guess the uncertainty of what will happen between February & September, (estimated month of departure) of next year is the everlasting question. I find myself asking, “Will I make this happen?” “What kind of job will I work?” “Should I substitute teach, or should I just go for a job to get me more money?” “Should I look for a high paying job in a field that requires a Bachelor’s, or a job with an hourly wage that will be easy to quit and leave after seven months?” Should I get two jobs, and pull 60 hour work weeks until September in order to save more money?” or, “Should I even do this at all? There are so many choices I life! Why am I limiting myself only to one?” My favorites include, “How many times am I going to have to endeavor the awkward glances and remarks from family members who do not understand or support my abroad endeavors, especially after answering their questions about my job prospects with the response, ‘I won’t be applying to full-time, long-term teaching jobs because I want to go back abroad?'” and, “How on earth am I going to survive seven full months living at my parents’, with no car?” I guess this true transition period will all be apart of the process of life, and fulfilling my life ambitions. In the past when I’ve gone abroad, I’ve always known when I was coming back. This time is different, because I don’t have to come back.
This summer has overall given me a chance to live in the moment, and engulf life’s everyday pleasures, instead of worrying about the future, or what’s next. I have dreamed and schemed about moving abroad for years, and now it’s almost finally the time. I guess at twenty-two, it is sometimes hard to remember that life is long, and that I will be given infinite times to start over. At twenty-two and fresh out of college, the path and options can seem so narrow, when really we have so many different options available to us. This next year is going to truly be full of uncertainties as I decide where I want to take my postgrad life.