Lately it seems like every person I encounter asks me how I feel about starting my last 10 weeks of college. Almost every person immediately assumes the head-tilt, concerned-eyes, soft-voice position and expresses their best wishes for my attempts to get a job in this economy with the job market long on demand and very short on supply.
I feel like they’re expecting me to say “terrified,” “worried about finding a job when the Dow Jones is as low as my 11th grade computer science grade“ or “I‘m choosing to act like an ostrich with my head in the sand.“ All the older adults I know seem consumed with the potential for failure and a future filled with fruitless interviews where graduates struggle to find work not because we aren’t qualified but rather because there are just so few jobs available.
I acknowledge the reality of our recession (I know, it’s like the economic version of saying Voldemort, but we’re all thinking it). I understand that all the internships and classes and qualifications in the world simply won’t help if no one is in a financial position to hire new staff. I can’t even count on two hands the number of people who have told me to stay in school as long as possible and take this opportunity to go to graduate school. Yet, a shrinking job-market is no reason to go to grad school for something I’m not interested in, and all the “stay in school” suggestions are well-intentioned but not what I want.
I do take the concerns of those older and sometimes wiser into consideration, and I appreciate that they care enough to fret about my future. However, they needn’t worry, because I’m not worried.
The truth is, I’m excited; I’m eager to take the next step into the beyond entirely uncertain of what it will bring. In fact, I welcome the challenge of having to be persistent and passionate. There is something more satisfying about finding your way when the odds are set against you.
Over break, I had lunch with my friend’s mom and we got to talking about the future. After a few minutes, I said that I was, at least for now, enjoying “living on the edge.” The truth is we graduates are really leaving college on the edge of a country, in a world, whose future is entirely unsettled. It is a little scary and slightly intimidating. But, it wasn’t until I said that and saw her reaction that I realized what beauty and potential the edge holds. The possibilities are endless and the future is vast. No one knows what will happen tomorrow. The only certainty is uncertainty, and that is both poetic and terrifying.
Living on the edge is tough at times because, as I’ve said, everyone you encounter has an opinion or perspective about what to do when you hit the end. Some suggest playing it safe, others recommend jumping with gusto and praying you don’t land flat on your face. Ultimately, it’s up to us, Class of ‘09, to approach the end exactly how we want to as individuals. I, for one, am eager to find a career that interests and excites me, and perhaps one that will allow me to feel like I’m doing something meaningful. For others, after the edge comes graduate school and the quest to become more of an expert in their chosen field. But, for some, the edge seems like a mirage in the desert, holding only delusions and dehydration.
Seems to me people tend to fear the end of something, as though the equal potential for success and failure is debilitating. I know that certain changes can be scary, but I think too often we lose the beauty of the end of one thing because we’re too scared for what might be coming next. What a shame it would be for us seniors to miss out on the wonders of spring quarter in Davis because we’re too focused on never having another springtime in cow town. Can’t let that happen!
The bottom line is that we have 10 weeks left in spring quarter, in college, before that edge is upon us, and I intend to live like there’s no tomorrow. Until that next step comes along and it’s time to take the plunge into the rest of my life, I’m determined to make the most of every last moment here at Davis and enjoy the uncertainty.
EMILY KAPLAN is adding “living on the edge” to her arsenal of favorite sayings for future usage. If you have any favored catchphrases you’d like to share, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, and have a great first week of spring quarter.