Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Why I’m Terrified and Excited about Being Done With School

For the past twenty years of my life, I have been in school. Now, suddenly I'm done.

This is incredibly exciting, especially considering how terrible and rigorous college was. It's possible some of my readers out there are long removed from college, have never been to college, or majored in partying at college, so let me explain.

I love engineering. I wanted to learn engineering and don't regret the six years I spent at Georgia Tech earning two degrees. But undergrad sucked, and the two years I spent getting my Master's Degree were the two most terrible year of my life. Seriously. They trumped elementary school.

I have never felt more stupid, more out of my depth, and more overwhelmed than I did in grad school. It was like I was drowning. But even putting that aside, putting aside that grad school utterly sucked, looking at the past six years of undergrad and grad school, there is one feeling that constantly plagued me.


That might come as a surprise, but stay with me.

Every moment of every day for the past six years that I did something fun, something for me, I felt guilty. I shouldn't be watching TV. I should be doing homework. I shouldn't be getting a pedicure. I should be doing homework. I shouldn't waste an hour trying to cook a real meal when a microwave meal takes five and then I can spend those 55 minutes I saved doing homework. Work out? What? I should be doing homework!

I did fun things in college, but while I did them, I felt constantly guilty, because I constantly had work or studying I should be doing. There was always a homework assignment, always research, always some studying I should be doing. Even when I took summers "off" to work at a real job, I knew I should be spending my evenings after the job working on my research, not having fun.

Now that guilt is technically gone. I can watch TV. I can work out. I can cook dinner. I can go shopping (well, mainly because I have money now, but free time plays a factor in that too). And I can do it all without feeling guilty that I should be doing something else, something less fun. This is an incredibly exciting prospect, one that I can barely begin to imagine.

And that's why it's so terrifying. For the past six years "free time" has been Friday night and Saturday morning—and that's pretty much it. For the past semester, free time has been unimaginable. I worked all day, came home and did school work, and then spent the weekends doing school work.

What will I become with free time? What will I do with myself? Write I hope. Read. Work out. Cook. Hang out with friends. All the things I did guiltily before, I suppose, but it's strange.

Being a student has defined me for the past twenty years, and now I'm no longer a student.

I'm a real person.

I have no idea where my life will go from here, how I will spend my hours, or what I might do. It's exciting and terrifying all at the same time.

Essentially, it's an adventure. I don't know if I'm ready for it, but it's here. So I guess there is only one thing I can say:


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