One Year Out

“Watching you thrive creatively over these past few weeks, it’s made me want to thrive. It’s made me want to find a hole in the world in the shape of me and just fill it up.”

-GIRLS, Season 3, “Two Plane Rides”

As a Creative Arts major, the final requirement for my degree was to create a capstone project over the course of my last semester along with the other art majors in my graduating class. I noticed a running theme amongst most of the students’ work, including my own. It seemed that whenever we tried to plan out exactly how our projects were going to look, it backfired. Our original proposals were an organized, logical plan for executing these carefully crafted ideas, but when it came to actually following it, something just wasn’t right. We came to find that our projects didn’t fit into a neat little box. It took some time, but eventually, we learned that it was okay to scrap our original plans and do what felt right, despite what we said in our outline at the beginning of the semester. Paint something because it was close to our hearts. Choose a monologue because we felt a connection to it.

I had no idea at the time, but that experience was a giant metaphor for the next year of my life. And what a fucking year it’s been. A thoroughly emotional, confusing, devastating, wonderful, enlightening, insane year. A hard year. College me had no idea what this year would turn out looking like. Let’s be real, college me was an idiot. And although I miss the cozy, blissfully ignorant cocoon that is collegiate life, I am grateful for this year and the things that I’ve learned. Don’t get me wrong, the future is still a terrifying abyss of darkness. But recently I’ve gone through some shit that makes me weirdly okay with the abyss. In fact, the abyss is growing on me.

I think that the most important thing I’ve come to realize is that it’s okay to not know. After graduation, I spent a lot of time feeling like the dumb art major friend because I didn’t have a plan; I didn’t know what I wanted or what steps to take next. My vague ramblings in response to the “what are you doing now?” question seemed to translate as lazy or unmotivated. When in reality, I had all these gigantic ideas and ambitions, just no idea how to execute any of them. But you know what? It is more than okay to not know what the fuck you’re doing. It’s okay to be a mess. It’s okay to take a year off or work shitty jobs or apply to grad school because you don’t know what else to do. It’s okay. You’re not any less of a person because you don’t know. You’re allowed to take the time to figure yourself out, no matter how messy it may be.

Just as it was with my capstone project, it seemed that every time I sketched out a plan for post-grad life, it fell flat. The ideas I had as an undergrad weren’t panning out. The plans I was manically trying to make to replace them didn’t quite hold up either. I found that once I let go of this notion of a plan I had to stick to, or specific goals I had to achieve in a given period of time, I was just happier. And things actually started falling into place.

And for those of you who had a solid plan pre-graduation and followed through on it- more power to you. Honestly. I am baffled by you and in awe of you, and quite frankly a little terrified of you. If there is ever a zombie apocalypse, you guys are the ones surviving. For real.

Despite the fact that I am slowly but surely making my way through the post-graduate abyss, I will probably still come up short when asked about my career plans. I still don’t know what I want to be or what city I want to live in or who I want to marry. But after going through all that I did in the past year, there are a few things I know for sure.

I know how I want to feel. I want to feel like I did when the family I babysit for told me they had to let me go because the mother was leaving her job, when they teared up telling me how valuable I was to their family and how hard of a decision it was for them. I want to feel like I did when my cast and I took our final bows this past Fall, my heart swelling because I felt so connected to this group of people. I want to feel like I did after I posted about my anxiety and received so many kind words from people telling me that I had inspired them in some way.

I know that I want to find what it is I was put on this Earth to do and do it until I can’t anymore. I know that I want to live my life for all of the incredible young people whose lives ended tragically and far too early, especially those that I knew personally. People who had so much more to do in this world. I know that I owe it to them to make the most of my time here.

I know that I want to find a hole in the world in the shape of me and just fill it up, in the way that only I can. And I hope that someday soon, when asked the question, “what do you want to do?”, that answer is good enough.

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