Its been 54.5 hours, or 3,275 minutes, or 196,570 seconds (and counting) since I officially graduated from university. Most people that congratulated me asked “how does it feel?”, and I gave them the same answer. Exactly the same. Nothing has changed.
I flew back home today. I arrived 180.2 minutes ago (and counting). And that is when I felt the difference everyone was asking me to explain.
I was filling in the required arrival card at the airport. I entered my name, date of birth, passport number, passport expiry date and occupation like clockwork. Muscle memory. It wasn’t until I was signing the declaration form that it hit me. Under “Occupation” I had written “Student”. I paused and had what is perhaps the shortest but most terrifying existential crisis I will ever have. What am I now? Since I was 4 years old, the answer to”Occupation” has always been student, (or “baby” Ha!). What now?
The crisis I experienced is not about being unemployed, that is an entirely separate nightmare. And I know too well that I’ll never stop learning. In fact the motto that my Alma mater carries is Latin for “I am still learning”, so I will still be a student in that sense. But does my degree define me for the rest of my life? Do I wait until my first “real job” before I can fill in the “Occupation” blank? Is my occupation whatever I decide it to be? Has four years of university prepared me for life? Or were those 4 years of my life and thousands of dollars spent just for the sake of filling in that blank? Am I my job?
Its been 204.87 minutes since I came home as a university graduate. And counting.
I unpacked the gifts I received and the gifts I bought for others. I hugged my dad. I pranked my sister. I laughed with my brothers. I wanted oh so badly to take a nap. To waste time. But I am not a student anymore. I may go back for another degree. I may pursue a P.H.D. But I will never be a fresh eyed undergraduate again. There is no more waiting till I graduate. I can not waste time and justify it by saying I am studying for a degree and therefore I am “doing something” with my life. I actually have to “Do Something” with my life now. NOW. There is no more waiting till my last year of university. I have to be something, do something…
And I am terrified.