I just got back from a rainy, sweaty run with Jesse. We ran through the forest, around a graveyard, and up and down the narrow streets of Leinfelden. We’re in Stuttgart visiting my parents – but more on that later.
During the run, my thoughts were everywhere. It’s so funny how, these days, I feel constantly caught between the past and the future, while still so much enjoying the present. I guess this is what it’s like to be smack in the middle of one of life’s biggest transitions. After so many years of being an official ‘Student,’ I am now not sure what to call myself. It’s only been a few weeks, but I’ve already encountered three of those drop-down boxes on websites where I’m supposed to announce my occupation. No longer a ‘Student,’ am I – cringe – ‘Unemployed’? Can I prematurely decide to be known as a ‘Writer,’ even if I won’t be published for years and years? Why isn’t ‘Traveler’ an official occupation?
Maybe we aren’t supposed to have labels – or be so worried about them – in the midst of major life transitions. Having been ushered out of Elon in a wonderful albeit exhausting flurry of graduation festivities, I have as much love for that place as ever, but less of a grip on it. The vernacular of being a recent college graduate, too, is something to get used to. I no longer “go” to Elon; I went there. I am no longer a student but an alumnus (or ‘alumna,’ if we’re being loyal to our Latin roots and not-so-important gender specifications), and I technically no longer study International Relations and Creative Writing – except that I still do, of course, because graduating from college has not meant ceasing to read books or discuss world events or think deeply. I’m just learning, as my peers are, to do these things in different ways and away from those beloved brick pathways and intimate classrooms.
I may have lost some labels, a Blackboard account, and my graduation tassel while transitioning out and away from Elon, but I have certainly gained much. For example, I now rent a 10 x 10 storage unit that holds everything I own in the world except for what traveled over to Germany in my suitcase. I am the new owner of about fifteen purple Target storage bins that I’m sure I will use in moves in the future. I have a framed university diploma. And I have best friends who are still with me everywhere I go. I no longer have a mailing address, but I do still have health insurance, so I can’t complain. Sure, I already miss the free coffee I was fortunate enough to get every day while working as a barista on campus, but no one really drinks coffee in the “real world,” right? And I’m pretty sure you aren’t supposed to graduate from college with huge amounts of savings, so in that respect, I’m breathing easy, too. I got this. No sweat.
Oh, the disillusions that come with being an overly idealistic college graduate :)
The future has been sneaking itself into the present fairly often these days. Plans are in motion, adventures are coming into focus, options are being explored. A quick update for all of you interested in my Peace Corps plans: I have been accepted (yay!) and have just received my incredibly intimidating stack of medical paperwork that will be completed after a few months of all sorts of doctor visits. Communication with the Peace Corps has been interesting, to say the least. A few weeks ago, I received an email response from my recruiter that read, “Unfortunately, we are not able to tell you at this time what region in Africa you might be placed in. But please fill out and return the attached Vegetarian Questionnaire ASAP.” (I’m glad all the important matters are being figured out…) A few days later, I got a letter in the mail telling me I was being nominated for a position in either Eastern Europe or Central Asia. Hmm…. So, the wheels are still moving in that department, and nothing is for sure yet. But, I am very happy to have been accepted, and I’m glad to have the Peace Corps as an option in the near (or not-so-near) future.
In the meantime, other fun things have been happening, like having my last college final be in Ballroom Dancing, celebrating graduation at Myrtle Beach with a bunch of close friends, seeing Katrina off for her summer in Namibia (yes, I am a little jealous she is in Africa and I am not!) and figuring out immediate future plans. I start work as staff member for the Duke TIP Leadership Institute at Duke University on Wednesday (flying out of Germany on Monday!) As much as I love serving coffee, I am very much looking forward to getting paid for using other skills :) And I will most likely be traveling back to Sri Lanka this fall to continue work with Elon’s Periclean Scholars partners on the ground. Elon & the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka are supporting three of us 2011 Periclean Scholars (Jesse, Molly, & me) to return to Sri Lanka specifically for a conference in September, but we’re planning to stay on for most of the fall to continue other projects and partnerships. I can’t wait to be back on a plane flying halfway around the world!
I’ll write more soon and post photos from graduation (which was incredible). For now, I think I’ll get out of my head for a while and soak up the present, which is consisting of tons of fun adventures in Germany with Jesse, Mom, and Dad. Oh, and I’m reunited with my pups again, too, so I’m pretty much the happiest college graduate in the world.