the greatest thing you’ll ever learn…

Questions and uncertainty about life after Gonzaga is the most beautiful gift I could give myself.

I can’t even explain to you all how many times I’ve been asked, “So, what are your plans for next year?” Every time an adult aged 40 years or older finds out that I am in my last year of university. A slight jolt of fear runs through me as my mind whispers to me, “I don’t know yet!” But then I compose myself and go on to tell, with much gusto, of the internship I’m currently interviewing for, all of the industries I’d like to see myself in, the kind of work I’d eventually like to do.

As I walk away from conversations like those, I feel the strange ache of falsity. Indeed, I do want to work in the arts somehow and I am interviewing for a great internship and I do want to work with passion in my future, but somehow spilling it all out like a rehearsed pitch to strangers and family members alike makes it seem like less of my own desires that I am fervently blabbing on about and more what I believe these people want to hear me say I want in my future, my job, my life.

While I eventually do want to reach all of the points that I speak about to those who ask me just what I plan on doing after I am released into this big, bright world, I find myself holding back from the ultimate truth. I want to tell them that I don’t have it all figured out just yet and that I’m okay with this and that, yes I’d like to land a big job with a big company one day, right now I’d just like to travel and write and explore and learn.

But as soon as this slips out, as soon as I shrug my shoulders and say, “I think I’ll just hop around Europe for a bit,” the smiles seem to slip and the eyes seem to widen and their next answer is usually sugary sweet and accompanied by a big smile, “Well, isn’t that nice?” And then they slink away, not daring to be seen with the second semester senior who hasn’t quite got their life squared away.

I’ve gotten used to this and, while it hasn’t made me rethink what I’m planning on doing, it does make me wonder about all the paths that lay in front of me as February ushers in March, who welcomes April, whose rainy climate begs on May to come and save us all. As I set down my last pen on my last final that first week of May, the one road that I’ve been steadily rolling down comes to a head with another. This other road has fancy adverts and withered postings and alluring offers that all plead with us to choose that one or this one or those ones. The risks and benefits are never fully drawn out and one has to choose their road based on the influences that life has breathed down their necks: you’ve got to travel and see the world while you’re young, while you can, while there’s nothing else in your way! Or This economy’s tough, you need to get a good job, pay off your loans, start saving up, be responsible. Or Just listen to yourself and decide what you really want to do, what do you want to be?

Each path, each decision carries with it the weight of every voice that has ever told you how you should choose your own future and what that decision means. From our parents to our professors to our culture to our peers, it is incredibly easy to forget that we ourselves have the most important voice when it comes to our futures. Advice from others is calming and invaluable at times, but in the end it is I who gets to buy that ticket, live that life, find that truth. As I look ahead to my life after Gonzaga, I see my future lined with big question marks, big dreams and fantastical ideas. To me, that is the most beautiful thing I could ever hope to see.

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