Walter Plunkett design sketches for Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara in the 1939 film Gone With the Wind
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I graduate college in ten days.
It just hit me that I don’t have any idea what I’m going to do with my life without school. And that the idea of doing anything for 40 hours a week (never mind working in a hot kitchen running orders out to ungrateful rich people all summer) feels soul crushing.
But college has felt soul crushing for a while too. Mostly this year, but it’s had it’s moments for the last four. I’ve been trying to balance my life back home, the one that involves my boyfriend and my best friends who are really family, and my school life, which involves learning and a lot of people I’d like to keep in my life forever, and it’s been shitty.
And I’ve woken up on a lot of Sundays or Mondays in my boyfriends bed and said things like “I can’t do this.” And then I would drag myself out of bed while he was putting on his work clothes (because he’s been a real person for almost as long as I’ve been in college) and cry a lot while we said goodbye and I would go. I’d drive back to school, two hours away, and go to my classes, and go to my job, and do all of the things that made my college life a thing.
And I’m terrible at good byes. Because it takes a grand total of twelve to twenty four hours for me to feel ok again after I leave home. And I still miss home and want to go home because of him. But this place has been a part of that.
I think back to the morning I woke up in August 2009 and remembered that I had to go to college. I was miserable.
I cried the whole two hours. While parents cried leaving their kids at orientation that day and their kids pushed them off finally ready to be an adult. I clung to my parents and the life I thought I was losing by being there.
And I’ve held on white knuckled to that life for all four years. Because I loved it. I still do. I am glad I did that because I didn’t loose anything.
And I’m still going to be a college graduate. And I’m still going to leave this place with experiences and friendships that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
But again, I’m terrible with good byes. And my friends keep saying they’re so happy for me and that I am going to be so happy. And I will be. I know that. I’ve been looking forward to this for years. This semester has been a push to the finish line.
But I want to know that I’m not leaving this place forever, or at least not the people.
I’m not sure that I’m ready to end this chapter of my life. And it’s not like I really have a choice. I’ve thought I was ready for a long time. But feeling like I actually have to walk away forever is hard.
I’m afraid I’ll never see my friends again. I’m afraid that the real world is too scary and I’ll be bad at being a “real person”. I’m afraid I’ll hate it out there. And that everything I think that it will be is exactly what it won’t be.
I’m afraid that I’ll have to be a different person. That I’ll have to start utilizing all of the things that college has taught me right away or I’ll have wasted all the money I spent to be a college graduate.
And I worry that I will miss this too much. That I will regret missed opportunities. That I will not be able to move on and do whatever it is I’m supposed to do out there. Whatever “Out there” is.
On Friday, when finals end and I drive home officially done with college except for the formality of graduation. I am going to be lost.
Hell, I’m already lost.
I don’t know what I’m doing or where I’m going and I know I’m supposed to be OK with that. But people have been asking me what I want to do w hen I get out of school for years, especially recently. And I’ve never said anything but “I don’t know.” because I still don’t. Ten days and I still don’t really know.
And I think, really, I do know. But I feel stupid opening my mouth and saying “I want to write. That’s what I went to school for.”
Because I do want to write. I want to write novels, and short stories, and essays that explain the things I think about life, and the world. I want to put my thoughts on paper. I want to write letters to my friends who are still in college. I want to feel like a writer.
My professor pulled me aside yesterday and praised my final paper. He told me that this is a great time for me to be hitting stride as a writer. And that I am good enough that I can consider myself one. He basically gave me all of the gratification I’ve needed for the past four years. He gave me everything I ever wanted out of this degree. Which was for someone to tell me that I’m made of the right stuff to do this.
But it was so surreal. This is a man who I never expected to say anything like that to me. Not because he’s always thought I was a bad writer. But because he seems to believe that you can’t be a good writer until your thirty. And because he is a man who criticizes because he wants you to be the best you can be. And I don’t feel like a writer. I don’t feel like anything. And I’m worried that I won’t live up to his expectations of me and who he thinks I’m supposed to be. But I want to believe that. I want to take his words and hold on to them because they mean everything. I can’t explain what getting that kind of a compliment means from him. But to sum it up, this is a man who freshman year told me that something I wrote was one of the best student works in that genre he’d seen, but I needed to stop writing it because I didn’t know what I was talking about. (He’s one of those “write what you know” people). He has always had some sort of faith in me. But my final paper surprised him. My thoughtfulness was refreshing and shocking and apparently enough for him to think that I’m right where I need to be.
If only I knew how to utilize that better. I’d be all set.
I’m afraid to move on. I don’t like change.
I just want to be a writer.
But I’m not sure I know how.
i took you for granted, VHS. i took you for granted..
I still love you.