You’d think that after three weeks of rest, I’d be ready to take on the last semester of my undergraduate career. You might think that I’m excited about the prospect of graduating. You’d be wrong. Because, as pathetic as it might sound, I get a little bit nauseous every time the word “graduation” flies out of someone’s mouth. And it’s not because I think wearing red and white is tacky; on the contrary, I can’t imagine a better color combination. It’s that I’m not sure what graduating from college really means. When I left elementary school I knew I was going to junior high. And when I left junior high I knew I was going to high school. And, after high school I knew I was going to IU. Now, you could say “Ryan, you know you’re going to Alabama to teach Spanish” or “Ryan, you know that you’re next stop is IPS.” But even if I had made a final decision regarding next year, I might reply with a couple of questions of my own: “Will I be successful at whatever it is I choose to do? How long will I do it? Will I enjoy it?” I suppose it’s these indefinites that concern me most.
Because, if we’re honest, the last 16 years of my life have been spent behind a desk. I’ve known nothing but school and I’ve excelled at being a student. Now, however, it’s my turn to be the teacher. And, needless to say, I’m not certain I have what it takes. I don’t say this out of modesty, and I’m not soliciting compliments by underscoring my weaknesses, but I am saying that there is always the chance that I might not live up to my own expectations. Then what? It’s easy enough to respond with that one cliché about getting back up on the horse and trying again. And I’m not denying that when you fall you should (pardon the forthcoming cliché) get back up again. But what do you do when that one thing you always thought you wanted turns out to be that thing you were never meant to have? Or what do you do when you discover that the one thing you were destined to become is yet something else (along with accountant and professional athlete) that you were never meant to be?
They’re not easy questions, and I don’t expect anyone to comment with the answers. I just thought I’d share a little of my anxiety with all of you cyber readers. But I don’t want this blog to read as a despondent plea to the gods of possibility and futurity. So I’ll end on a more positive note. You see, the thing about the future is that it is, in fact, possibility. It is everything that is possible. And that, I feel, is what is exciting. It’s that idea that anything could happen and that the person I am now might not be anything like the person I’ll one day become. I’m a sucker for a good quest narrative. And although I doubt I’ll be slaying any literal dragons in some crazy quest for redemption or love, I have no doubt that whatever happens in the next couple of years, I’ll be that much closer to finding out who I’m destined to become. And that, I must say, is pretty exciting.