Treading into the wilderness


I did a rather important thing this week: I had my grad photos taken. While I was posing in awkward positions and stretching my lips in I’m-smiling-because-you-told-me-to smiles, a realization came to me: Shit, I’m graduating. 

I’ve spent four years of my life in university. Before that, I was in high school, and before that I was in public school. I’ve spent the majority of my life in school, and now I’m leaving it. Perhaps I will return in the future. I do have my eye on a few creative writing master’s programs. But as of right now, I’m going out into the real world at the end of April.

I’m terrified. I love school. I’m comfortable here. And while I may be annoyed living in it at times, it’s my home. Now I have to go. I know that I’m not alone in my fears. Many people go though it. Saying goodbye to all that’s familiar and heading into the unknown is scary. Fear is a natural response to such a situation, especially if you’re not sure which direction you want to go — like me. 

So, when I graduate, I’ll have a BA in English literature and women’s studies. It is a very fun program. It is also quite diversified, which has allowed me to explore many interests. However, as a result of the nature of my program, I have developed what I refer to as “squirrelism.” Pretty much everything interests me to such a degree that anything that pops into my path causes me to stop and investigate it, and the more things that appear, the more distracted I become.

That’s why whenever someone asks me what I want to do when I get out of school, I don’t know how to answer. If I am able to stammer something out, it’s usually vague. And now, with the threat of my impending graduation pointing me to the door, those answers are also now dripping with anxiety. 

“Oh,” I say, “Essentially anything that has to do with writing is the sort of job for me!” That answer is so poor that it almost sounds like a lie. I try to elaborate, but I know that I’m just trying to sound like I know what I want enough to convince my listeners to believe me. Eventually, I just stop talking and nod my head several times. The people nod back, and the discussion ends. Then the depression comes. Then I wonder if I made the right choice in choosing my program. Then I feel that I only chose it because I wasn’t successful in anything else in high school. Then I feel just plain hopeless. 

But I still have classes to go to. In my natural environment, my space, I feel much better. I’m filled with warmth, the kind that only comes from loving what you’re learning. I remember why I’m in those classes. I remember why I stayed in my program. I hope again. I believe again. I’m excited again. I see so many innumerable possibilities before me, so many paths that I could take in my life, so many experiences that I could have. And, once more, the wilderness appears bright, colourful, and expansive. I’m going to be okay. 

Amber O’Brien

4B Arts



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