Recently I read this article written by Marina Keegan, a recent Yale graduate and student journalist who had been hired by The New Yorker. Keegan wrote about her feelings, “the opposite of loneliness” at Yale and encouraged her peers to remember that “we’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.”
Though I am not a recent graduate, I’m not dealing with the turmoil of the post-grad life yet, I see it on the horizon. As I approach my senior year of college, I do not feel any less lost than I did when I arrived three years. In fact my college experiences have opened so many doors for me that now I don’t feel limited but rather overwhelmed by the vastness of the choices before me.
I’ve met so many people, people with different backgrounds and different experiences, different skills and abilities. People ready for adventure, people matured and ready for the responsibility of the “real world”.
Yet many of the people I’ve known who have graduated aren’t on direct paths. They didn’t jump right into their career; they don’t have jobs or don’t have jobs on their desired career path. They jumped or were forced into adulthood and are spinning in circles trying to figure out where to go from here.
It is easy to forget that twenty-somethings are still new to this game. Less than a few years ago, most college graduates were bright-eyed high school students with curfews and regulated school day schedules, still getting used to driving their own car or managing the few dollars they made at their median-wage job.
The transition to adulthood isn’t quick or smooth. Some people work their way through jobs and relationships, gradually accumulating responsibility and life experiences at the proper time (weddings, babies, funerals, etc.) Other times life comes hard and fast and turns in unpredictable, tumultuous ways. It is easy to get lost or even feel like you’re drowning.
Keegan’s assessment of students, as they grow and age and speed towards adulthood, was so accurate: “There’s this sentiment I sometimes sense…that it is somehow too late.” Yet it is her encouragement that resonates; her hope for the future and her confidence that whatever mistakes we make or think we have made can be replaced or changed, that hits home.
“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over. Get a post-bac or try writing for the first time. The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious. We’re graduating college. We’re so young. We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the end, it’s all we have.”
Unfortunately, Keegan did not have more time. She was killed in a car accident this past weekend. Though she was so young, she doesn’t have the opportunity to change her mind or start over. She will remain forever twenty two and like every person who has lost someone young; her friends will struggle to understand how such a thing could happen in the world they just recently inherited.
We don’t have to have the answers, god knows we shouldn’t be expected to, but we must continue searching for them. Whether it is at the desk of our first big boy/girl job or after $1 shot night at our favorite college bar, we can’t be discouraged by wrong answers or lack of understanding, but be motivated by the fact that we still have the opportunity to search and be thankful for the time we still have to do it.