Dear College Catherine,
Right now, you’re probably exhausted from writing a 10 page research paper for your lit class. You’re probably fed up with your friends for some stupid drama that’s happening, or something annoying that someone said in the dining hall yesterday. You’re most likely irritated that the boys in the suite upstairs INSIST on bouncing that freaking basketball every single day, even though you’ve gone up there and asked them to stop multiple times. You’re sick of ice cold showers and public restrooms and unreliable washing machines. You’re probably thinking for the millionth time that week, “I can’t wait until I graduate.”
One afternoon in the car with Mom in the spring of your senior year, you’re going to tell her that you know that life after graduation can be filled with uncertainty and unemployment, but you’re just excited for the freedom it allows that school doesn’t. The freedom to travel if you want to travel, the freedom to make your own schedule and decide what kind of job you want to get.
Catherine, I really hate to break it to you, but you have no idea what the hell you’re talking about.
Life after college is so much more than that. The word “uncertainty” has so much more weight than you’re currently giving it. Some of your classmates had mathematical minds and studied physics or business, and have great, stable jobs that they love. And you’ll be happy for them, really. But you chose a different path. The creative path. There’s no clear cut road for you. A year from now, you’ll be sipping a beer and awkwardly bobbing your head to the band currently playing in the bar in an attempt to feel like the social adult (adult?!) that you apparently should be by now. People you meet will ask you what you do and you won’t know how to respond because you’re a part-time babysitter trying to get a restaurant job but also hoping to be an actor. Or a writer? Or maybe a comedian? Or a singer? Your passion for the all things artistic is a great thing, but it also makes you a little scatterbrained. Indecisive. Confused. Scared.
You’ll be freaking out because the only loan repayment plan you can afford has such high interest rates that your monthly payments aren’t really cutting down your debt at all. Oh yeah, by the way, you have debt. A lot of it. That far-off financial burden that you knew existed in college but never really thought twice about? It’s real. It’s very, very real.
Listen, I’m not trying to scare you with all of this, but post-college life is not an easy one. I’m just trying to get you to enjoy the life you have now. I know it is so difficult to appreciate stale pizza in the dining hall for the fourth night in a row or RA staff meetings that go on way too long, but please, just try. This is such a unique time in your life. You are an adult, yet you have no real, heavy responsibilities. You can see your friends at a moment’s notice. You are surrounded by so many incredible people who you know love you and really, really know you. You have so many opportunities to create in your classes. You have amazing professors who truly care about you as an artist and a person. You are in such a warm, loving, safe place. You believe in yourself, because no one has ever given you a reason not to.
Look, I know that in time, I’ll figure everything out. Everything will be fine. But I just wish that I had known how lucky I was in college. So enjoy this time. Go hug your best friend who also happens to be your roommate, grab some peanut butter M&Ms from the campus store and watch 7 episodes of How I Met Your Mother together. Go to sleep knowing exactly what you’ll do and where you’ll be the next day. Love the monotony of it. Because one day, you’ll miss it.