I Think I’m Terrified of Adulthood [Confessions of a Twenty-Something]
As I laid in my bed in the wee hours of the morning due to the fact that my mind couldn’t shut up long enough for me to fall asleep (Thanks, Anxiety!), I couldn’t stop thinking about a conversation I had with a couple of friends over drinks a few nights before. We were chatting about school and jobs and “the future.” This conversation got me thinking about a whole slew of things including the crippling fear of “what’s next.”
Due to some unfortunate circumstances, I am a little late on the whole “getting a diploma” thing. I will graduate at the end of fall term (so about a year behind the rest of my friends), and up until a few days ago, I was thrilled that my academic career is finally coming to an end. I had the champagne chilling, people. School and I have never exactly gotten along. It’s not that I don’t get good grades or excel in my classes, I do okay. It’s just that while sitting in that desk as a professor goes on and on, I can’t help but wonder, “WHEN WILL I NEED THIS?” I’ve seriously been wondering the same thing about school since I was 8 years old. When will I need to know quadratic equations or what happened with the Louisiana Purchase? When will knowing how to read Beowulf in Old English benefit me in the real world? I think we know the answers to all of those questions, but this is why school and I have always had a tricky relationship. It’s one of those, “can’t live with it, can’t live without it” sort of situations. I know how important a good education is, but I don’t always feel that everything I do during it has had a point.
But I digress. As I talked to my friends, one asked me how I felt about grad school. I immediately shuddered. MORE SCHOOL? You have got to be kidding me. Hell no! The last thing I wanted to do after dragging my feet through college was take more college classes. That sounded awful. When he saw my visceral reaction, he laughed and backed off from the subject, but later on that night, I couldn’t stop thinking about his suggestion. This turned into me tossing and turning all night. I couldn’t help but wonder if grad school was something I was interested in. How could I have gone from being completely against the idea to requesting information from schools about their Grad programs? Was I kidding myself?
Am I afraid of the real world?
Am I afraid of being an “adult”?
Am I so desperate to slow down this train called Life that I am willing to continue my higher education even though I have been dying to finish school for years?
Yeah, yeah I think I am a little, but aren’t we all terrified? I’ve seen so many of my friends graduate and go off to do pretty wonderful things with their lives. Some moved to big cities, some went back to grad school, some have great internships, some are still in our hometown, but regardless of where they are, everyone is “doing something.” I just can’t wrap my head around the idea of me being one of those people too. I have all these plans and dreams and expectations for myself, but I’m hesitant to grab my diploma and finally start working on them.
At this point, I can use the excuse that I’m still a student and that’s “what I’m doing right now,” but after I graduate, what will I say? Where will I go? The fear of the unknown consumes me to the point where I can’t sleep at night. I start to stress about who the hell would hire me or where I will end up a few short months from now. I used to have delusions of grandeur that I would up and move to a southern city and start a new life there, but when those dreams crashed and burned, I found myself in a bit of a situation. I can’t run away from adulthood. I can’t delay time. It’s always going to keep on ticking. Whether I like it or not, time keeps ticking on, and I need to keep up. I’m coming up to a crossroad with absolutely no compass to help me pick the right path, but I think that’s okay.
I know I have mentioned this a few times, but as twenty-somethings, we’re still trying to figure it all out. We’re in this crazy limbo stage where we’re kind of kids but kind of adults. We pay some bills, but Mom and Dad still help out every now and then. We want freedom, but home always remains a comfort that we can return to. I guess there is no better time than in your twenties to be completely lost and confused as to what “the future” entails. I suppose this is the primetime for us to pack a bag and travel cross country. This is the time to make your first attempt at the first great American novel. This is the time to take risks. What else do we have to lose? If I really want to, I could move to London and become a hat maker. I could get married and start having babies. I could create a whole new life, because I have nothing tying me down anymore. School is done (unless my fear of “the real world” is so crippling that I have to go to graduate school). I am starting to realize that maybe it’s okay to have that fear. Maybe fear is what I need to get my ass in gear and do something with my life. I don’t want to graduate and then begin the life of a couch potato (a-la Rory Gilmore when she drops out of Yale). I know that it’s far-fetched to believe that whatever I end up doing three months from now will be what sticks for the rest of my life, but I hope that I can find something that is worthwhile for as long as I need it to be.
After I graduate, have a couple well-deserved panic attacks, and decide for myself what’s next, I have hope that I’ll find some place where I can belong for a little while. And if I don’t, that’s okay too. I am not going to put intense pressure on myself if I don’t get my life together right away (or after a couple years). As my father likes to say when I complain about my humdrum mess of a life, “No one has their shit together. I don’t even have my shit together, and I’m almost 60.” I think he’s onto something, guys.
Katie is finishing up her undergrad at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois. She enjoys wasting hours on Facebook and tweeting things no one cares about. When asked the question, “Do you do marathons?” She promptly responds, “Of course! Which show?” Follow her @KatieGarrity! Or read her personal blog where she talks incessantly about Ryan Gosling and hummus here!