Dear Hannah Lee,
I am a senior and am scared of the future. I do not have a job or a place to live or any semblance of a plan. I am very scared! Please advise.
I Am Scared and My Feet Are Cold
Dear Scared, Cold Feet,
I feel your struggle. Dude, I have no clue what to do. But as I cultivate the image of a soon-to-be-functional member of adult society, some pieces of rationale keep me from completely crumbling on Middle Path.
I keep telling myself that there’s strength in numbers: You and I and about 400 other Kenyon seniors find ourselves in a thirteen-week countdown to the day our cozy bubble on this hill boots us off to adultville. Thank goodness we’re in it together, right?
Though I’m sure as you read that sentence, some kid in your senior seminar just announced their fancy new job or their grad school acceptance or that they discovered the cure for cancer or whatever . . . traitor.
I’m a senior, but I’m still a baby. I can’t apply for my own credit card and I never mastered the art of folding fitted sheets. I’m scared out of my wits. As I quake inside the pillow fort of my NCA, keeping these three points in mind soothes me (sometimes) whenever the future rears its nebulous head:
First, growing up isn’t a race. Look at your friends who graduated last year. They probably range from working professionals to others in the midst of the job hunt to grad students. No real measurement exists for determining true adulthood. It’s totally okay for your lab partner to have a job lined up once he graduates while you have no idea about what you want next year.
After all, growing up means something different for all of us. For some, it’s paying our own rent. Others, walking across the stage at graduation. Me? I’ll consider myself at the threshold of adulthood when I actually attend all those dentist appointments that I schedule (then always postpone).
Next, there’s no best answer and no single path to glory. I just sat through endless holiday gatherings where everyone offered their two cents about what I ought to do post-grad. From what I’ve deduced, this number of options means there’s no be-all, end-all solution to life. Rather, there are multiple routes that can lead to success and happiness.
Finally and perhaps most importantly: Enjoy not knowing. Like you, having no plan scares me, but it is also pretty exciting. It’s starting with unchartered territory and plotting your own course. You could venture to a new city; try your hand at a job you never imagined holding; take a chance on a person or an opportunity — the list goes on.
If the number of possibilities overwhelms you, just pick one, try it and change when you’re ready. If you discover your passion in the process, then, by golly, you chase those dreams.
It’s easy to get lost in the stress and anxiety about the future. But if you let it rob you of enjoying your final semester as a Kenyon student — in a place that you love (hopefully) among friends you love — you miss out on what should be your last hurrah. As Ferris Bueler said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
What are your burning questions? Don’t know what to do about your hookup’s return from a semester abroad? Trying to rein in reactions to out-of-control email threads? Submit anonymously on tinyurl.com/kenyonqs or ask Hannah Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org and she can offer the written equivalent of a hug.