Enter the Greenhorn Grad

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Dear gentle readers,</p>

I wasn’t prepared for graduation. Four long years had been spent to achieve my goal: that clean, crisp vanilla paper. During those years, the future had been a distant thought, something to be laid out later when I had time. Well, now I have that time, and I have no clue what to do with it. I find myself frequently pressed down by the possibilities the future brings. Which dumbfounds me since I was excited about it. I still am, but I look forward to the distant future. What scares me is the immediate future.

It makes demands of me that I don’t feel ready for, like find work, leave home, say goodbye to my friends. The future is change, and it’s bending me as it moves forward. Strangely though, I’m finding myself grateful for that pressure even as I wish I could jump on a bus or a train and go back home.

Even as I wish I could embrace the ones I love and never even spare the thought of letting them go. I’m grateful for the immediate future because I know I need it to grow. Human beings can’t be static. We need change to makes us who we are. The future is our constant companion, pulling us ahead before we’re ready, before we want to be ready. It doesn’t care how we feel or if we like it. It’s the boss of our lives, and it will literally drive us into our graves. The only thing we have control over is ourselves, if we decide that we’ll be able to deal with whatever shitstorm it steers us into.

I’m still having issues with that last bit. Trusting myself is difficult. But I know that if I don’t, I’ll be in a worse state than I already am. If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust? Your parents … friends … a spiritual entity? Sure, if you feel so inclined. Even so, to use literary terminology, you have to be the subject in your life, not the object. You have to act upon things, not be acted upon by them. If you don’t, your life won’t be a worthwhile one. Bad things will happen to you no matter what you decide, but if you see yourself as the subject, if you trust yourself enough to take on whatever the future brings, you’ll become the heroic protagonist of your own epic life story.

Okay, enough literary references. Why am I doing this? Well, every one of you, gentle readers, is going to undergo when you get out of school. “No, I won’t,” you may say. I know I would be if I were in your position. The future was so exciting to me when I was in school. The possibilities of no late-night sugar/caffeine-induced study sessions, no more tears on my last minute projects, free time!? The possibilities had me chomping at the bit to get out of there. University has turned me into a quivering wreck. And now, like any long-term prison inmate, I long to lock myself in again. That’s my experience though. You may not want to go back to school, but I can guarantee you that the next little while in your postgrad life won’t be easy.

Maybe I can help you prepare for it.

Although I won’t be writing this column just to help you. I’m also writing it to help me, to allow me to put my experiences on paper and share them, so that I don’t feel so alone. So, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amber O’Brien, recent graduate of University of Waterloo with a degree in English Lit and Women’s Studies. Let’s be greenhorns together! Until next week, gentle readers.

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