College: complete

The last few weeks have been crazy with interviews, finals, end of the year events, and graduation - but I finally made it out alive. Over the last two weeks, I made a conscious effort to notice the effect that the end of college had on me. But every time something that I thought was supposed to make me sad or nostalgic didn't pack quite the emotional punch I thought it would. Like when I sat through my last class, I didn't feel anything special. The same nothing happened when I took my last final. And when I tried on my cap and gown. And when I walked across the stage during graduation. And when I walked out of Yankee Stadium.

I DID finally felt that familiar "end-of-something-big" feeling the other night in an unexpected situation - while I was watching TV with two of my residents. We were all getting ready to move out, and two of my residents came by to hang out. We were flipping through the channels, and we stopped on the NYU channel - the NYU Reality Show was playing. (For the non-NYU readers, the Reality Show is a musical production that's part of each freshman year orientation and serves as a theatrical guide to NYU life -- complete with songs on STDs, depression, roommate conflicts, you name it...) We managed to catch the end of the show, right at the beginning of the song "Learn to Love and Live." And then it happened.

I started to remember when I had watched the Reality Show when I was a freshman. I remembered feeling so overwhelmed and not knowing what to do next, and not knowing who to talk to. I remembered walking to my first class, and not raising my hand for at least the first 2 weeks. I remembered how shy, nervous, and awkward I was. I remembered having late night conversations with my roommate. I remembered all those weird things you do and places you go as a freshman - like hooka bars, sake bombing, and Asian pub - and NEVER going to Brooklyn.

I began to realize what a completely different person I was back then. Back then, all I wanted to do was play and teach music. I dressed terribly. I was really awkward around people I didn't know. And I never spoke up. Now, I'm almost the opposite. I still want to teach, but I now I desperately want to get into the nonprofit world, whether it's in social enterprise, philanthropy, or the education side of things. I'm much more comfortable around new people. And I always have something to say.

But it's not just about the beginning and the end, it's also about what was in between. While my residents and I were hanging out (and while I was contemplating the last 4 years of my life), we talked about how one of the two residents was thinking about taking a semester off. He didn't feel engaged in his classes, and he knew that he needed a change. I remember feeling that way a few years ago, and I eventually figured things out by trying a lot of different things and talking to a lot of people about their experiences. I told him that he should think about what he wants in life, that he should do some exploring - what I was told when I felt lost. He listened to me, but he didn't take it in - how I reacted when I heard those things the first time.

It's so hard to let uncertainty take hold and to find what feels right when you have no idea what direction you're going in. But I think part of growing up is not only learning how to explore during college, but how to make your entire life one big exploration. They say that our generation will make around 7 career changes in our lifetime, so this uncertainty thing doesn't just start and end during college.

So, as I sit here in my old college dorm room full of boxes, at 6am, listening to that cheesy song from the NYU Reality Song over and over, I don't feel the panic that I thought I would feel from not having a job by the end of college. I went to a great school, I've got a pretty good head on my shoulders, and I'm confident that my mission to get a job will soon come to an end. I know that if I just keep on exploring, while I might not find exactly what I set out to look for, I'll probably stumble upon something even better.

Now is where our lives begin
Stop and take it all in
There are things that you lost, there's things we can win
Stop and take it all in
We all are one, we're in this together
The world's all ours, take care of each other
Maybe we can learn to love and live
Maybe we can learn to love and live
Maybe we can learn to love and live


Anonymous said...

you inspire me. :)

Jordan said...

Your best post yet!

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