I finish my undergraduate degree tomorrow.
After eighteen years of schooling (hey, I’m counting kindergarten), it all comes down to a two-hour exam covering the last term of a subject I realized too late I wasn’t entirely passionate about. I really hope I pass.
For a little while now, people have been asking me, “How does it feel to be almost done? Are you ready?” My answer has been an unequivocal, “Oh God, yes, get me out of here, I’m done.”
See, for the last year, my heart and mind have been elsewhere. I have a job. I have this writing thing. Never one to have a single posse, I have friends and associates from various spheres of my life, most of which do not involve school. I’m done. I came to the classes, and I learned stuff about history, and I learned to write essays the way people at Black Creek learn their trades.
But then, last night, as I looked at a map to figure out where this exam actually is, a twinge of wistfulness startled me. My four years at university were not necessarily the idealized vision of ivy, uni jackets, and tree-lined footpaths. But they were, on the whole, good. I have been accused of being the “most nostalgic person ever” (with good reason), but still – there’s a certain safety in the university years. There’s the safety of venerable buildings and terrible food, readings and registrars, midnight baking and those very deep, profound conversations that happen in the wee hours of the morning.
University is, I think, about potential. These four years have all been about potential. Even the ubiquitous question “And what will you do with that degree?” is based on possibility. What would you like to do? What do you dream of doing? What do you imagine beyond the walls of this quad? Possibility is intoxicating. And so, I see, somewhat, why schooling acquires such a golden haze in retrospect: students can peer over the cliff and glimpse the lands beyond, but no one’s asking them to climb down among the rocks just yet.
Except, now, it’s time. I’m still done. I’m still more-or-less burned out, academically. I’m still aching to reclaim those hours spent studying and attending class and put them towards things I want to do: writing my own work, podcasting, reading for my own pleasure and self-education.
Maybe I realize a little better now that for the next chapter to begin, this one must close. We’re students our whole lives, but it won’t ever be quite this way again. I have learned a lot here. Not just about medieval kings and queens and Victorian imperialism, but about myself. And that’s kind of the point of your teens and twenties, isn’t it? Figuring out how you want to scale that cliff, what kind of person you want to be, what kind of relationships you want with other people. This year especially – well, it’s been an education.
It’s been a good run. But now – it’s time to go.
PS. NEWS AND THINGS
I’ve been meaning to announce this for a loooong time, but, well, school and life exploding.
Nominations for the Parsec Awards in Podcasting are open. If you enjoyed Hapax-the-Podcast, please consider nominating it for an award – the form is here.
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