The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

Practical lessons on living to the fullest in real world

Reflections of senior determined to thrive after college life

In a week, I may just have the answer to the question every senior fields at least once (usually thrice) a day – that is, “What are you doing after graduation?”

That question has haunted most of my fourth-year cohorts and me for the past two semesters. Undoubtedly because the most honest answer has been (and still is) a resounding “I don’t know.”

In response to this uncertainty, I engrossed myself in applying to program after program that interested me. Diving head first into a sea of applications, I kept my eye on the prize: graduate school, teaching programs or service programs.

Today, only a few strides away from the finish line, it feels surreal that college is almost over, that the “real world” is beckoning us forward, and that the SMU experience will soon be a memory.

In many ways, the transition has already begun. We’ve had many a lasts at this point – the last football game, last first day, last Celebration of Lights, etc. Much of our SMU experience is already a memory.

Amidst this transitional state, it’s easy to submit to a fatalistic, depressed advice that seems to have crept in.

Indeed, the primary refrain of advising adults submits that “college days are the best times of your life.”

At the mere age of 21, many would have me believe that I should begin to plan my funeral. They mean to tell me that I’ve already reached my peak, my crescendo, my prime. After this, there are only bills, my 401-K, responsibility and insurance? After college, I’m condemned to a life of quotidian bore?

First revelation: my life does not end on May 14, 2011. I mean, give me a break. We’re not dying, we’re just graduating.

For many, college may be the best time of their life. For those people, I mourn.

That’s not to say college has not been great. It has been ridiculously fantastic, outrageously fun and unimaginably transformative. But, all of those qualities are equally possible outside the context of the university setting.

If the rest of my life is boring, empty, and dejected; a good look in the mirror is probably far overdue.

Another all-too-prevalent piece of advice for seniors is that what we choose to do after graduation is of utmost importance.

That is the underlying assertion in the question, “What are you doing after graduation?” It is also the assumption of many a career counselor or parent imploring, “you need to find a good job right after graduation, you need to make sure you make the best decision for your post-graduation fate,” etc. Sure, economists do suggest that the way in which one enters the economic market does affect pay for the rest of one’s time in the work-field.

But, again, seriously? Am I really going to be economically debilitated for the rest of my life if I travel the world for the next year? Or still, if I choose the wrong job? Second revelation: one year is just one year. So, I can decide to work for “corporate America” or for the burger joint on the corner. And if I am miserable after a year, well it’s only a year. It’s not going to condemn me for the rest of my life to poverty, misery or deficiency.

Perhaps most disconcerting in all of this tenuous advice is a fundamental misinterpretation, or at least mistrust, of life.

Third revelation: live vibrantly in the moment. Life is full of curve balls, flower-beds and grand adventures. Nothing will change that. No transition can remove that. No amount of loneliness, fear, doubt, shame or (dare I say) failure will drain life’s potential for vibrancy.

So maybe in week I’ll know what the next year of my life will look like, but that doesn’t mean that the world will start spinning differently. I’ve been in the real world all my life; graduation won’t induce that. I’ve considered myself an adult for a while now, a diploma won’t make that official. Despite the circumstance, I’m going continue to live my life to its fullest; I’m going to continue to have fun; I’m going to take the next step with passion and fervor; I’m going to live in the moment – even as an official adult in the “real world”.

Drew Konow is a senior religious studies, foreign languages and literatures major. He can be reached for comments or questions at [email protected].

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