As a second semester senior at a four year university on the outer edge of Western Wisconsin, now is probably the ideal time for me to get my shit together.
I graduate in three months.
I have nothing lined up in terms of a job or a place to live. I’ve looked, but I haven’t let it consume my life. I have no commitments regarding anyone or anything. I virtually have nothing marked on my calendar after May 15, 2016. On that day in tiny writing is “commencement”. The start of a new chapter.
Let me backtrack a bit.
In recent years, I’ve abandoned my childhood bedroom. Upon returning home for the weekend, the week, or for an extended break, I elect to sleep in the guest room or on the couch, taking over a corner of the living room for my things. I don’t know why I do this, but I do.
“Do you always have to make such a mess when you come home?” my mom will ask in exhaustion.
“It’s a metaphor, mom,” I’ll tell her.
“A metaphor for what? My living room is a mess,” she’ll point out.
“Exactly,” I will say.
“I need more of an explanation,” she’ll poke at me.
“Because,” I’ll begin. “It’s my life. Organized chaos. It’s a bit beyond my control, but not enough that I have no control at all. It’s unpredictable to you, but predictable enough for me. It makes a good story.”
“I guess that makes sense,” my mom says.
“And when I need to, I can pick it all up and it’s like I was never here,” I add.
My mom’s prodding to pick up my mess is a lot like today’s society pushing young adults and soon-to-be college graduates to have their lives entirely mapped out.
As a senior, a lot of what I’m hearing from many people in my life is that now is the time that I should be getting my life figured out. I should know exactly what I’m doing in three months’ time. I should know exactly where I’ll be in five years. And I should know exactly what I want to be doing in ten years. I kid you not, one of the requirements for me to graduate is to write a research paper based on a career I expect to have in ten years.
Hell, I change my outfit three times before leaving for the day, so how can I expect to make a commitment to a career that I haven’t even entered yet?
The thing with society today is that we’re expected to know this stuff. We’re supposed to plan it all out to a T and follow the plan precisely. We forget that life happens during that time, too. And it sets us back when we don’t remember that. We forget that things don’t have to be permanent if we don’t want them to be. We forget that saying “yes” to a job or a relationship now doesn’t mean that we have to keep saying “yes”.
We forget that patience is a virtue and we forget to live on the way up. We think we’re entitled to something because we did the time for it. We forget that hard work is also big step up that ladder. We forget that we’re not actually above all the things we say we are. We forget that diverting from the plan and staying at that part-time retail job for another year while you figure things out and find the next adventure isn’t going to be the end of the world.
The more we plan, the more opportunities there are for things to go wrong.
But that’s not how life works. Life doesn’t work according to your plans or to the college curriculum.
Living a life style that one might dub “not having my shit together” is a good, flexible lifestyle for me. I have more opportunity to travel, to change my mind, and to do a 180 if I want to. I would even argue that it’s not necessarily a lifestyle, but a mindset. I am in a mindset where I’ve accepted that things won’t always go my way. Things aren’t permanent – sometimes on their terms and sometimes on mine.
Time is a precious thing. Don’t waste it on a corporate job you hate. Don’t waste it doing something you’re not crazy about just because you truly believe it will “pay off in the end”. Don’t let others try to tell you how to live your life or what mistakes you should or shouldn’t make. Some lessons are meant to be learned firsthand.
I am graduating in three months. No, I do not “have my shit together”. I would prefer it this way. The opportunities are endless and I’m going to take my time.