“When are you graduating?” I have been asked this question literally three times a week this semester, and it’s starting to take a toll. It’s become the main fixation of my peers and respectively, our families, because it’s the new landmark in our lives. Friends are planning for their lives after college and polishing up their LinkedIn’s for job interviews, while I’m looking at the signup page. Personally, I want to be able to answer this question with a firm “May,” or “next fall.” But I can’t I just feel behind.
The truth is I know exactly why I’m unsure about my future. A big part of it was my freshman year, which was rough by all standards. The adjustments with college was a shock to my system. I had what I craved most as a young lad: freedom. And it’s sad because it’s exactly what we want that ends up being bad for us. This new taste for freedom, which cost me a few credits freshman year, also came with the bitter pang of doubt. Even then, in 2010, I was not sure of where I’d be. Back then, it didn’t seem like it would come back to haunt me, but boy was I wrong.
When an aspect of my life starts to overwhelm me, I turn to my truest advisor: the Internet. The only comfort I have in this limbo of higher education is that I’m not alone. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, only 37.8 percent of students in New York state graduated college in four years, while 58.1 percent graduated in six years. This isn’t my paper shield, trust me, accusations thrown my way by family members and other “responsible” adults who’ve been deemed worthy, by themselves, of chastising me, have remained constant. I couldn’t even tell you how many people I know who are putting their fifth resume workshop before their next meal, but I do know this: I shan’t be one of them.
I don’t want to use this as an excuse, but the numbers are right there. I’m not a slacker for missing the four-year mark, I’m in the majority. But before I go further, hats off to you if you are going to graduate in four years or less. You’re bucking the trend and you deserve a cookie. I on the other hand, will be working diligently to make up for my past. This doesn’t mean I’m living with regret, that really isn’t the case. My path was mine to make. I have learned to appreciate making mistakes and honestly, in a weird way, I’m thankful I’ve had a chance to make them.
While I’m in the “more than four” majority, and I’m content with that, I can already see the next big fixation: marriage. This isn’t as big as a concern for me as graduation, but it’s starting to rear its ugly head in my life. I am going to be very firm on this one: no. I’m single and generally ready to mingle, but this does not mean I’m ready for that next step. Shame on the adults who’ve told me the next big thing for me is getting married. The next big thing for me, is me. Facebook has become a wasteland of baby photos and wedding proposals. I’m beginning to feel like the eyes of women my age are wandering toward their left ring fingers. I am just lost when it comes to this. I’m practically a child myself. Who wants to see me at the end of the aisle?
The main reason I mention this is to open your eyes. Times are changing and that means expectations should change with them. Don’t worry if you feel overwhelmed by the same questions I’ve received. Like I said, you’re not the only one. I’ve decided, in lieu of my undecided graduation dates and poor registration, that I don’t have time to dwell. I’ve always been a big proponent of blind faith and I’ve realized I need it now more than ever. It sounds strange, but I don’t really have time to dwell about my future. I’m still paving it. If you’re struggling with moving forward and the pressure of everyone around you, just use my new mantra: frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.