Spring is in the air! Can you feel it?
Here in Southern California, the jasmine is blooming and the breezes are warm & summery. It makes me want to lie down in a flower-filled field (if only I could find one in the city!) and take a dreamy nap. Sigh. 🙂
Not all my springs have felt so relaxed and dreamy…especially the spring after graduating college.
Just two weeks after receiving my diploma, I moved to Chile to be with my boyfriend. Not because I really wanted to…deep down, it didn’t feel quite right. But I was desperate to have some kind of plan, and my boyfriend had offered to pay for my plane ticket. Here was my answer! Or so I thought.
After I had been living in Chile for about a month, I remember wandering to the town square one afternoon when my boyfriend was at work. I sat on a bench, the sun warming my skin. I watched as the schoolchildren streamed across the plaza, laughing with one another as they made their way home for lunch. I glanced down at the notebook in my lap, and read what I had just written:
“Oh my god, what am I doing with my life?? I have no idea why I’m in Chile. How long am I going to stay? Will I find a teaching job here? (Do I even want that?) Did I just make a huge mistake? Will I regret this forever? What if he’s not even “The One???” Ahhhhhh!!!!”
I know I’m not alone in experiencing this kind of intense confusion and turmoil after leaving college and entering the “real world.”
Why is this such a common experience?
Well, here’s my theory: we have been in such structured, predictable environments our entire lives. We know that after elementary school comes middle school. Then we move onto high school. Then we choose a college, and go through the motions: Choose a major. Work hard. Study abroad. Get an internship. Graduate.
No one tells us what to do after that. We aren’t handed any kind of instruction manual once we leave college. It’s really up to us to figure it all out. So it’s only normal that so we feel lost and confused after being immersed in struture and predictability our entire lives! It can take us awhile to really land. We need some time to explore our options, find our grounding, and figure out what we really want to be doing with our lives.
This process basically took my entire 20s.
Someday, I’d LOVE to teach a college course to graduating seniors on what to really expect after college – the quarterlife crisis moments, the scattering of friends, the intense uncertainty and unpredictability. But until that day comes, I’ll continue to reassure you that you’re not alone, that everything will work out, and that it’s sooo normal to feel dazed & confused in your 20s ~ just like I felt all those years ago sitting on a park bench in Chile.