Life After College; or How to Avoid Further the Responsibilities of ‘Real Life’
On a chilly (relative to a seventy-five degree winter day) December morning—the sixteenth of December, in the two thousand and eleventh¹ year of our Lord—I awoke a twenty-one year old young man. About twenty-four hours later, I walked across a stage, shook hands with an overly cheerful college president, and received a piece of paper telling me that I had graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. Twenty-four hours beyond that, I awoke and felt as if very little had really changed. I was on the cusp of a new era in my life—or so some seemed to think—but it really felt no different from the many months that had led up to it. I was still the normal self that I had been for a long time. I was no longer enrolled in school, I could buy alcohol if I felt the need to debauch this crisis away, and I could rent cars (with a $90 additional fee for being under 25) if alcoholism prove an inadequate coping method. It was not the dawn of a new age. My years of education had not climaxed in any synergistic epiphany: in fact, I was left more baffled than when it had begun. Admittedly, I was more humble about my stupidity and less depressed by it than when I had begun my collegiate education three and a half years before. Since this depression has been replaced by a perpetual paranoia that Sally Mae will call in all of my debt, I cannot help but feel that this was a much too expensive anti-depressant.
Anyway, there I was, no longer a college student. This state brought quite a few ramifications, the most aggravating of these being the societal disapproval if I were to continue to act as I had when a student. Sure, it was perfectly acceptable to spend thousands of dollars to read books and poems and write stories, but heaven forbid we do that for free! Am I to be blamed that I find writing, reading, blacksmithing, Wayland, Thor, and Frodo far more fascinating that developing a resume or purchasing life insurance? Alas! You’re an adult now, Bonner, and this is real life; it isn’t supposed to be fun. In truth, I know: this dichotomy was never really an option. I was and am engaged to be married, and I take quite seriously my responsibility to provide for my wife-to-be (I have yet to figure out how; but the Grace of God is at work). And so the ‘real life’ began, and I began to search for employment.
Fortunately, this purgatory between college and death is not all grim. Of course, much of the good are those things salvaged from my college career: the books, the poems, the thoughts (even some of the classes). There is a wonderful freedom to sleep until 9 am, wake, and study flash cards of Old English pronouns. Or (much more to my liking), one can simply never go to bed and correct Wikipedian solecisms giddily through the gloaming-hours.
Even so, these joys are not quite enough to mask the aporetic nervousness that the after-life brings. The present seems far less substantial and significant than it did whilst in school. Then, my every moment was defined by me being either studying or not studying; I was either working or procrastinating. Each moment stretched out and bore the significant relative to greater and grander things. Now, not so. There is not teleological heaviness in the present of these after-days. I have no immediate goals that shape my fleeting moments. If I do not write that essay on the etymology of lord, no-one will deduct points, and no-one will even miss it. If I spend hours shallowly skimming a half-dozen books, I have no more pressing thing to feel guilty about putting off.
And instead of all that, I type away at badly constructed blogs. Perhaps I ought to read a good book.
1. The original version of this post had “two thousandth and twelfth year of our Lord”. While some might think this to have been an error, that impression is mistaken. While I am not free to divulge all details of my time-traveling antics, they are responsible for the perceived discrepancy. Because Belhaven University does not approve of time-traveling in any of their programs, I have altered the date to reflect a more innocent, plausible date.