I have made a terrible error in judgment. I am actually physically sick right now thinking about it. My stomach is hurting intensely. That could also be the 24 hour flu...it's been going around my humble abode for about a week and I'm the last one standing. I was hoping the Swedishness of my room could somehow protect me from germs--all those clean, simple lines can inspire a person to believe that no illness could possibly have the audacity to infect that sterile-looking environment, but it appears there's a good chance they can. And also that I will be very sick for the next 24 hours. Regardless, I've got a bad belly and a heaviness weighing on my conscience. Here's the thing: I just had a conversation with a pseudo-friend of mine who I don't consider that smart or motivated. She told me she had started seriously looking for jobs and hoped to have ten applications out by Thanksgiving and another ten out by Christmas, and hoped to have something secured by at least March. Normally this kind of statement would get a knowing smile, a that's so great for you! and a secret eye roll out of me. Maybe that reaction should be actually what is weighing on my conscience? Adding it to the To Ponder list. The bigger problem here is that I started to do those things and then I thought, wait. What does she know that I don't?
I selectively hate not knowing things. There are a few things I'm ok with not knowing that much about: traffic laws, numbers, the rules of cricket and all of Jung's theories. Until recently baseball was on that list, but then too many forces of the universe converged and I had to face the facts: I will become an MLB expert in the next six months...or else. Those few things aside, knowledge is my favorite form of power.
Which brings me to the crux of the issue with my pseudo-friend and her future, and why I feel like I might throw up: I do not know what a person does after they graduate. I am not joking. This is not me being funny and sarcastic. I honestly don't understand how the switch happens from college student to adult. I've heard that legally I'm considered an adult, which is confusing to me, even though I often use "I'm an adult" as justification for my actions. Not really justifications. When someone asks me a question about my behavior and I don't feel good about a real answer, sometimes I'll say, I'm an adult. And they'll usually say, what? And then the problem is solved because now we can engage in circle speak, my favorite method of distraction.
I'm confused because I thought that the Lauren Turns 20 program had transformed me into a put together individual, somebody who enjoys mornings and having painted nails, and has life goals and peace in her heart. It appears that somewhere along the line I fell off the wagon. Or I was only fooling myself into thinking I had succeeded, when really I had only barely scratched the surface of all the things I don't know but should. My biggest issue with my own perceived failure is that I knew this day would come and still, I ignored all the signs. If this were a court of law and I was able to put myself on trial as both the defense and prosecution, I would easily be able to put myself away for life on the highly incriminating paper trail I left. Four months ago I said I needed a Lauren Is (Probably) Going to Graduate Program and I have done nothing! This loss of potential is an outrage, a crime against self.
Part of me wants to cut myself some slack. That's the line I take as my own defense--you are still young and you have time, things will work out like they always have before. But you can see it in the jury's eyes, which all look suspiciously like my own, that they aren't impressed. You will have to do better than that. Unfortunately, as my own jury, I know in my heart of hearts was the desire to not change, to not choose, and to look at the ground under my feet instead of the horizon before me. I am my own harshest critic, this I know. But if your method of assessing your own decisions was to imagine a courtroom scene consisting of yourself as each player, you too would live in fear of the judge. I have condemned myself to the task of tireless self-growth. I have given myself no other choice--I must force myself to find out what it is that happens after graduation, and I have to develop a plan. The verdict has been handed down. It's time to get cracking!
It has actually taken me a week to write this. I started it last Friday, and I'm finishing it now. I still feel sick, but it's because I have a cold and not a stomach flu. Still concerning, but less of a dire emergency. And in the past week I have come to a conclusion about why this run-in with my pseudo friend has been so disconcerting for me--it's taken me a week of introspective thought, a variety of breakdowns on other topics, and a niggling thought in the back of my mind that something is not right with me to arrive at the place I am now. It is not that this pseudo-friend has been applying for jobs, or even that she knows how adulthood works. I know, in theory, what should happen. What is really bothering me is that she knows what she wants, and I don't. It is that simple. I don't know what I want. And I always know what I want.
Now that I have considered this at some length, it's becoming clear to me that I have been feeling this way since I came back to school in January. Everything makes sense now. I am in the midst of a hard year and I didn't even know it, but I did also know it--that in the quiet forest of my soul I was unsettled and unhappy. I have been living in an uncomfortable shade of gray, feeling like the edges of my self have been blurred. This is why I have been tired, this is why I have been battling the dark, this is why I have been lashing out, and this is why I have not felt like writing. This is all making sense. And I am relieved.
Well big deal, you might be thinking. Get over yourself and get on with it. An easy thing to say, but not always an easy thing to do. This is a big deal for me because I am not a shade of gray, not in any sense of the color or awful faux-literary publication, I am a black and white kind of girl. I am single-minded to the point of recklessness. I am particular to the point of being stubborn. I know who I am and I know what I like. And I used to know what I wanted, and I don't anymore. But now that I know that I don't, I can start finding out. Step one in the Lauren Will (Probably) Graduate program: find what I want. Not big, existential all-I-want-is-to-be-happy kind of way. More of a what-do-you-want-to-do-tomorrow kind of way. And then I can say, what do you want from this year at school? And then after that I can say, what do you want from the next year of your life? Already I feel better. I have a plan. I have questions to answer. I will prevail. And if I'm not happy now, I will be happy soon. Because I will find a way to live at home in myself again. I am sure of this.
I am also finding that I am beginning to become quite adept at being my own therapist. Which is delightful for me and less delightful for the therapeutic industry, as they soon will have to start planning on a different method of sending their children to college other than me and my neuroses. Never fear, dental industry, I have not yet learned how to do my own dental work. Unless I decide that's what I want. In which case, start shaking in your boots. The ones my mouth probably paid for. I'm just saying.