When I first got to Brown in September 2009, I was lacking all kinds of life experience. Never been kissed. Never been drunk. Never gotten anything less than a B+ in a class (screw you too, AP Euro). I can say with confidence that none of those statements apply to me anymore (screw you too, Math 35). Milestones aside, though, it’s kind of astonishing to look back and see just how far I’ve come. At the start of my freshman year, I may as well have been thirteen years old for my lack of maturity. Now, well, I probably don’t always fit my parents’ definition of how a 22-year-old should act, but I’m pretty sure I at least match Taylor Swift’s.
The thought of graduating and entering the “real world” is terrifying. I’m one of the lucky ones with a cushion under me, what with my moving back home and going to grad school and all, and it’s still scary. I’m not going to have to deal with broken appliances in some crappy apartment and I’m not futilely searching for jobs, yet I’m still fighting the urge to look at May 26th like the Mayans were off by five months and the world as I know it will end.
What I’m slowly starting to realize, though, is that growing up isn’t a bad thing. There’s so much more that I’ll be able to see and do and learn once I’m out in that real world. Maybe this realization is part of the reason why I’ve decided that after who-knows-how-many years studying child development and education, I don’t want to be a teacher anymore. Maybe I’m finally done with school. Maybe I’m ready to move on.
The future is scary, but I’m starting to feel like it’s also full of possibility. I don’t have to be a teacher just because it’s the path I’ve been following for years. I can figure things out one day at a time (but seriously, if anyone wants to give me the secret formula for obtaining Mindy Kaling’s career I’d be eternally grateful). There’s a part of me that wants to be an undergrad forever – my friends can attest that this is a desire I’ve voiced many a time – but the other part of me wants to take an enormous leap of faith and figure out how the hell I can make a career out of doing something I love: writing.
It’s easy to have regrets about my time at Brown. I really should have taken more writing courses, kept in better touch with those “let’s have lunch sometime” friends, sucked it up and gone to SPG just so I could say I did. But I’d rather focus on all the amazing and lucky things that have happened to me over the past four years. I’ve made incredible friends. I’ve had an a cappella group serenade me on my birthday. I conquered my fear of public speaking so I could be a campus tour guide. I spent a full day writing a final paper due that evening and got an A on it. I’ve never been sexiled (it’s the little victories).
Maybe the real world will be just as scary as I initially anticipated, and I’ll be sitting alone in my room in six months wishing I could go back to college. But the real world might also be the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I think that just the acknowledgement of that possibility means I’ve grown up enough to make it out there.