June 27, 2015
It’s a very nice piece of paper, I’ll give it that. It’s high quality cardstock, complete with raised letters printed in rich, shiny, black ink. But ultimately, it’s still just a piece of paper. So why am I so damn excited about it? Am I even excited, or do I just think I am because everyone else says I should be? I think it’s something else. I think what I, and probably 300-something other graduates right now, are feeling is a strange combination of excitement, confusion, and dread.
Up until now, that question has always had a simple, quick, and easy answer. Finished with kindergarten? Go to first grade. Finished first grade? Continue to second. And so on, until you’ve completed twelfth grade. Senior year. The final swan song for everything you’ve accomplished in your life thus far. Once that’s done, there is nothing left to do. There’s no thirteenth grade to move on to, no defined path left to take. But if you don’t do anything, you’ll either die or end up as a miserable leech. In the grand scheme of things, there is never nothing left to do. Every time you finish one task, another pops up to take it’s place. It just so happens this time around that the next task is “decide what to do with the rest of your life”. Not intimidating at all…
If there isn’t nothing left to do, then what is there? Here’s the thing: a concrete answer to that question simply doesn’t exist. Humans need three things to survive: food, water, and shelter. It doesn’t matter how you do it, if you get those three things, you will be able to continue your existence. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Much of it is quite nice icing, icing without which society as we know it couldn’t exist, but it’s still icing. You could live like a hermit in the woods, completely isolated from everyone else, and you’d still be alright if you managed to find those three vital items. The essentials are mandatory. Everything else is up to you. Forge your own path, or walk in the footsteps of the masses who passed through before. Stand on the shoulders of giants to reach previously unseen heights, or build a staircase to the clouds all your own. There are literally limitless possibilities. Unfortunately, for most of us, that’s the problem.
I’m excited because I can choose any path I want. I’m confused because I’m not sure exactly which one to take. I dread what could happen if I make the wrong choice. And if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say any other recent grads reading this feel that way too. So here’s my philosophy: just pick a path and run. I know it’s scary, there’s a reason I mentioned dread earlier after all. But I, just like everyone else, will have to work past that. Do or die time comes later. Right now, it’s just do time. So, ladies and gentlemen of the class of 2015, I ask you one simple question:
What are you going to do?
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