C’est la vie

I was totally unprepared for the fact that life after college is actually significantly different.

I’m writing this because I want to know if anyone else agrees with me, and if so, how.

I touched upon this somewhat in October in my post “A Few Quick Notes” (https://throwinginthetowel.wordpress.com/2009/10/13/a-few-quick-notes/), but I think the differences have become more apparent to me now and my separation from that time in my life has become more crystallized.

Earlier this week I had a misunderstanding with a friend of mine and I realized that the differences in our perspectives was due in large part to the fact that he was still in college.  One year ago I probably would have completely agreed with him. Last year I had such concrete goals:  Move to LA. Work my way up to casting director. Get married around age 30. Have kids after that.  Spend the rest of my years in sunny California and become the best casting director there ever was (more or less).  In envisioned the afore-mentioned life as the key to my happiness and sacrifices would be made to achieve it.

This is what I wrote to him in the email:

“This is going to sound weird and maybe condescending (which I don’t want it to), but after college you suddenly realize that the rest of your entire life is entirely unguided and open. And all the ideas I had about accomplishing this and that have been overcome more by the desire to take advantage of the opportunities life gives me instead of having a specific goal in mind and sticking to it to the detriment of new things that come up. Sooo, I still want to be a casting director and I still want to live in LA but I also know that maybe that goal won’t be worth sticking to one day for whatever reason. Maybe I should take a job opportunity at a charity in NY? Or maybe I should go to medical school. I don’t know. I still have my goals but I am more sensitive to other opportunities that may come my way, and at each crossroads you have to ask yourself, which will make me happier, is x worth sacrificing y? Does that make sense?”

I’m sure some people have always lived their lives in this manner but for me the whole go-with-the-flow thing is new.  It also scares me.  How do I know that I’ll be making the right decision every time? Before when my goals trumped all, the right decision was easy: stick to the plan!  But now I only have loose ideas about what I think will make me happy and I find that very frightening.  Exciting, as well.

I know I’m very young, and I’m the same age I was when I graduated, but I feel older now.  College feels like a long time ago.  When my daily schedule was filled with class, homework, writing, and thousands of people my age.  When it was easy to spend time with a friend. And there were organized activities. Parties and plays and shows where I would be surrounded by people I already knew.

Now I have none of that structure.  Especially since I am isolated in a foreign country. And I suppose that freedom (although I don’t mean to suggest the positive connotation “freedom” has, but merely the absence of any structure/order…maybe “chaos” is more appropriate) forces you to become more responsive to and stimulated by your environment.  I can’t cling to one idea of the way my life should be when I have to renegotiate my life on a day to day basis on the microlevel.

I should also add that I don’t feel more mature, but rather situated in a different place from which to make decisions and see the world. And this place is much less stable and defined.

If you relate to anything I’ve said, I’d really appreciate comments on the subject. I know this is experience is only mine, so it would be interesting to here how other people have experienced post-college changes.


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One response to “C’est la vie

  1. Sarah

    While I myself have never been to college, I can completely understand where you’re coming from. For years, I had very set goals. Join the Navy. Go to JAG school (or whatever it’s called), and practice law within the military. After my time there, go to regular law school to be able to practice law and then live off two pensions after retirement. Now I have absolutely no desire to be a lawyer in the least, because I realized that I wouldn’t find my work rewarding. So instead, I thought I’d like to be a psychologist. And now, as I’ve gotten older and spent more time in the real world, I realized that I should stick to what I truly enjoy and what I’m good at– kids. Since I’m not planning on having any of my own anymore, the career choice is doubly tempting, and while working with small children may not be the most financially rewarding career, it’s something that I would come home from everyday feeling like I added just a little bit more good in this (sometimes) depressing and cynical world. So in highschool– serious lawyer. After several years out of school– child care specialist. Very different. And who knows, maybe by the time I get through that schooling, I’ll find something that seems even more tempting. And I’ll probably seize it– example: meeting my husband and moving to a different country! I learned many years ago that the future is completely unpredictable, and that yes, we have so little control over it. Enjoy the ride; that’s life!

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