Dear Fourth Years:
From seminar papers, weakly class assignments, endless readings and the stress of post-grad looming over our heads like a scythe, I get it. LIFE IS INTENSE! Overwhelmed? Depressed? STRESSED? And, if you are like me, on the brink of implosion?
I recommend you take a night to yourself and just cry it out, or vent. You need to materialize the frustration inside of you and alienate yourself from it. Put it outside of you, accept it and move on and then…
STOP THE SELF-DEFEAT TALK!!!
We are seasoned warriors. Me? Three 10-pagers, one 20-pager, a 15-pager. Know that somehow we’ll get through it—like we always do, like we always have. We’ve worked way too hard, slept way too little and sacrificed way too much to give up now. Take some time to bask in your awesomeness. The ability to write quality research papers last-minute, the ability to hyper-read, the capacity to retain a lot of information in very little time—-WE ARE PROS! We got this. So march on soldiers, victory is so near.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming on dealing with post-grad planning stress:
“I am not doing what I think I should be doing, and I feel guilty about it, even though a part of me doesn’t want to do it”
Way too many of my friends have shared with me this frustration in the last week. Why are we so concerned with putting ourselves on a path we think we are supposed to be on? Or worse, why do we understand our future as a linear path? I think that we are too young to commit ourselves to one path for the rest of our lives. And I am sick of post-grad speak which centres around finding a career path you want to begin after your undergrad and then creating your post-grad plans accordingly. I am only 21. I cannot conclusively tell you what 40 year old Sarah will be doing—the thought of it even scares me. As humans, I feel like we try to increase control over our lives and destinies through planning out things like careers. But let’s be real, we will never ever have complete control over ourselves, what happens to us or even where we end up, no matter how linear of a path we confine ourselves too. The unknown is terrifying, I know. But there’s a certain exhilaration that comes from not knowing everything—or in my case, anything.
You know why? Because life is not linear! Life is a process—parts trying to figure themselves out in context of a whole trying to figure itself out through the relations between its parts. Not mechanic, but more like an organized spontaneity. Paradoxical I know. But look:
We try to make sense of our world through our limited understanding of it. And then we live in that limited understanding because it is all we know and we are afraid to foray into the unknown. Problem is, when this limited understanding of life becomes life itself for us, we get stuck in this dance of preserving it. We move like clockwork, like machines in this mode of existence because we think this is how it should be and feel guilty when we are not mirroring the choreography. In attempting to rationalize the unknown, we deceive ourselves into actualizing our understandings of it and then force ourselves to live in this artificial reality—just because its easier and makes more sense than reality itself.
But there is this beautifully terrifying and free space outside life in the box. No choreography, just your will—something inside of you which is uniquely yours. This something inside of you, it’s taking you somewhere by actualizing itself in the world in a way true to yourself. We are all products of sublation* trying to realize ourselves in the world. Life is not about choosing a path, and walking down it for the rest of your life. I like to see it as process of learning who we are by experiencing what we are not. So technically, we are all on paths—just not linear ones we can conclusively define, measure and know. Just trust that you are working yourself out in the world. There is no end to this path, nor is there a beginning. It’s circular.
SURRENDER TO THE UNIVERSE. Just kidding.
Try not to stress about the future. Realizing how little you can control future will drive you cray!
So once again, my advice is to just live. Just BE. Come join me in the undercurrent of the system. I’m off the path. And it is INSANELY refreshing. And remember, “not all those who wander are lost.”
* PS. See what I mean when I tell you Hegel and Nietzsche talk to each other in my head?