And so it goes…
Questioning the future
There are times in life when someone asking a question can make your day. I love your shirt; where did you get it? What did you think of that movie? Are you going anywhere for winter break? There are other times in life when someone asking you a question can cause your hands to get clammy and a bead of sweat to drop down your forehead. It’s no longer just a friendly conversation, or maybe it is. But, some conversations can start to seem like interrogations after the same question is asked over and over… over and over again by different people… So, where are you going to college?
At the onset of junior year, people are just trying to psych themselves up for the next 9 months to come. With future SAT dates lingering in the imaginary to-do list in your brain, and pep talks from all the new teachers, junior year can begin to seem, well, intense. But, I never imagined that that same type of mindset could ever transcend over into senior year. In the movies, and in real life, or as numerous people have told me, senior year is one of those years you will never forget. And while I see what they are talking about, I don’t know if it is for the same reasons.
My senior year has been great so far. There are fun things I have done sprinkled in here and there. So many things have been happening in one day. But I’ve realized, that while senior year appears to be more relaxed, I don’t stop working when I get home. I have a long list of things I need to do. It’s like turning 18 made me fast forward to being 30 and in a cubicle working 9 to 5.
As I’ve gone and visited family members, and had phone conversations with people who have known me my whole life, one question always seems to pop up. Do you know where you are going to college? In the beginning I would just smile, laugh, and say, “You know, it’s all up in the air right now where I want to go.” In the last 6 months, I have somewhat figured it out, but nothing is ever set in stone until it is. So when people ask me now, I get an odd overwhelming feeling. It’s almost like I’m anxious, but I can also feel heat transferring across my arms and to the tip of my ears. I’ve become better about not being stick still when asked this question, but it still, no matter how many times I’ve been asked, catches me off guard.
I’ve been trying to figure out why so many people I know who are going through the same process I am right now can, at times, feel this way. And I’ve developed a sort of hypothesis. Maybe we, or maybe it’s just me, get so frustrated when that question is asked, because this is the first time we don’t know. We actually don’t have a clue. For the last 4 years, when someone asked us a question we were just like, “Yeah, I know”: the typical teenager response. A bunch of know it all’s. But now that we are on the premise of a new chapter in our lives, we are almost apprehensive to know everything, because for the first time, something is unknown. No matter where we look, we won’t find the correct or wrong answer.
I think the ‘where are you going’ question is asked so often because people are genuinely interested in the life you are planning for yourself. But I also think people ask because they want to help you make that decision for yourself, or at least give you some kind of advice. While I love how everyone is so interested in my future, I also am kind of anxious about it. I don’t like to share things until I know for sure. And while going to college, or starting a job, or taking the year off and traveling is exciting to think about, it can be scary to actually verbalize. It is no longer just a wandering thought in my or anyone else’s head, but a reality that will be here before we know it. So while it may seem so liberating and freeing to make these decisions, it is terrifying all the same. And sometimes, it’s hard to talk about what scares you most.