As a little girl, I always knew I would go to college. It was the way I would make myself in the world. Throughout college, I had endless internship opportunities. In fact, I had to turn down many of them because I couldn’t work them all at once. I had the chance to live in New York City for a summer and for a month of January. I studied abroad in London. I was asked by the English department at my school to complete an Honors Thesis – something only a few students are asked to do every year. I thought I did everything right, and figured my post-graduation experience would be equally as exciting as my college prospects.
Surprise! I haven’t even graduated yet, and nothing has gone the way I thought it would or how I want it to, and with graduation next weekend – it’s time to come up with a game plan for the ominous future.
Originally, I thought I wanted to attend graduate school and work towards a higher degree in English literature. I spent the entire fall semester working on taking the GRE exam, filling out graduate applications (and spending major money on sending them out!), and writing the most intense essay of my undergraduate career to send along to my program choices. In the midst of all this, I spoke with my academic advisor who told me “Charlsie, don’t worry about it – I think you’ll get in wherever you want, you’ll have the option to choose where you want to go. You’ll do great.” Despite the stress and pressure I felt from all this, her reassurance told me to expect the best and relax about my future.
Oh boy, did I ever expect the best – but only got slammed by the worst: I exhausted the bulk of my spring semester receiving rejection letters and reading online news articles highlighting that universities across the nation received more graduate applications than in years before – making those already-hard-to-get seats for English M.A. and PhD programs even harder to get into (most programs only accept between 12-30 students per year anyway). Recognizing that graduate school wasn’t an option (I started thinking that maybe graduate school wasn’t what I wanted to do the more I worked on my thesis, anyway, but that’s another story for another time), I knew I had to figure something out.
Trying not to be too disheartened (this is really hard to do), I moved on to publishing and publicity job positions in Atlanta, Georgia (my hometown). Nearly every place I contacted never responded back to my voicemails or e-mails. If I did hear back, they usually said they weren’t accepting interns or hiring this year due to the economy. The few places I did apply at rejected me. Ouch! After spending the last four years with endless internship acceptances, this came as a huge shock for me. I was never rejected by an intern program before!
I think Kelly Cutrone sums it up best in her book If You Have To Cry, Go Outside: And Other Things your Mother Never Told You: “Often the problems is not that parents didn’t encourage their kids to dream, but that parents were so encouraging that those dreams became their children’s expectations.” All my dreams have always been my expectations – and realizing my dreams aren’t as straightforward and accessible as I once thought truly feels like a slap in the face, especially after completing four years for an undergraduate degree, which almost seems useless right now.
Many people, when faced with extreme confusion, go home to sort things out. Unfortunately for me, though, I don’t have a place I can call home. My family life is a little disjointed, something I’ve been used to since I was a pre-teen; it is just how things are for me, whether I like it or not. Although I haven’t lived with my dad since I was ten (and I haven’t even seen him since June 2008), I think moving out and living with him is my best option, and I’m lucky he is welcoming me with open arms.
So, I’m packing up my Toyota Corolla after graduation and I’m setting out for the Hills of California. I will be moving to Orange County with no job to look forward to. No internship to plan towards. No career prospects to expect. No friends to meet up with. Awaiting me is just a room in my dad’s Newport Beach apartment and some time without too much pressure, so I can figure out exactly what I need to do and how I need to do it – to get to where I want to go.
A lot of doors may have closed on me, but I do have goals – and some hope left.
This column is not only going to follow my move to California, it will follow me as I take a new direction towards my future: Law School. I am planning to spend the summer studying for the October LSAT, so I can apply to law school in the fall. This journey is going to be tough. In fact, it’s going to be really, really hard – and I know there are going to be bumps along the way, whether it is with my family, my personal life, or my ambitious plan to attend Law School for the 2011-2012 school year.
With that said, I’m not moving to California to become friends with our favorite girls from The Hills, and I’m not moving out West with the notion of being a celebrity. I am, however, moving out there – like many people do– to make my dreams come true, whatever they may be.
Won’t you join me along for the ride?