Last week, I entered my final semester of college. I got up; made myself a cup of coffee; wore my full, black-and-white striped skirt; packed my bag; and rode the bus to campus. I wasn’t nervous or anxious like I have been for so many first days before. I was eager to be in classes that will teach me things I’m truly and earnestly interested in: magazine writing, graphic design, my thesis workshop, Italian (in preparation for an upcoming trip). But as I read Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl on the way home, I thought about May, that time when my eduction would end (for the time being) and I would enter the big, wide world of adulthood.
For 18 years, I’ve been a student. It’s been my profession, my passion, my purpose. And now, I’m looking at retiring from my life as a student and starting something wholly new. I must admit, after so many years of what people tell me is academic success, I’m afraid of failing, of being somewhat less than I was. After all, I’m currently reading the words of someone who became wildly successful and celebrated in her 20s, writing a show for HBO and publishing a memoir by 28. And what about all my favorite, famous bloggers who are in their mid-20s and making a living out of doing something creative that they love? What if my accomplishments don’t measure up by the time I reach their age? What if I’m not doing everything I dreamed of? 25 is starting to look very close, and 16-year-old me was expecting a lot out of 25 (or hey, even 22) year-old me.
I don’t know what my planner will look like come May. I don’t know what my life will be at 25. I may be writing my first novel or perfecting a recipe or coming home from work to curl up on the house with a cup of chai. But I do sincerely think I’ll be happy and becoming a little bit more like the person I’m supposed to be. Although my career dreams are persistent, there’s a vein of contentment that runs in me as well, and I’m grateful for it. After all, when I used to ask my mom what she wanted to be when she grew up, she always replied with: “happy.”
So, when I’m feeling heavy with the expectations of my former self and the fear of failing that persistent student I’ve been for the past 18 years, I’ll just remind myself to be happy. To take things slow and steady. To live simply and enjoy little wins. To keep making things that matter to me. And if I need to hear it from someone else, maybe I’ll read this post from another literature lover. For now, I’ll keep doing what I’m doing (i.e. knitting a jellyfish, playing with the fonts for Lux, and eating a madeleine). I’ll keep you posted on the rest.