This past Sunday I spent a few hours at my alma mater for a department alumni event. They started holding these things several years ago, but I didn't go until last year. They're quite clever, actually, as the current crop of seniors comes and mingles with the alumni to discuss "life after college." I wish they'd held events like that when I was a senior.
I mean, back then I still had my whole life ahead of me. I hadn't made any job mistakes at that point - I still thought I might have something one might call a "career." Today, however...
But I digress. This year, the faculty had the brilliant idea of having the alumni create a timeline of what they've done since leaving college. Most of the alums were recent graduates, so they had a whopping year (or, in some cases, five months) in that so-called "real world." Unlike last year, however, I wasn't the oldest alum there - there were two gals who graduated five years before me.
Still, the post-college timeline felt like an exercise in torture.
I wrote out all the years since I graduated down one side of the butcher paper, and then just stared at a giant blank sheet upon which I was supposed to chart the past decade. I mean, how do you do that? The instructions said that if there were any years during which one was "drifting" to indicate that with a squiggly line. So what was my first move? A giant squiggly line from graduation day until the present - and beyond.
Sure, I've kept busy since graduation, but my life hasn't exactly been on any kind of track. I used to think I should want more, that I should want to do more. When I was in high school, everyone took typing classes and my mother specifically said, "No daughter of mine is going to be a secretary!" so I didn't have to take the class. And what have I done since graduating? Administrative work. For many years I was almost ashamed of that, again thinking that I should want more for myself - hell, my mother always did.
More recently, I had come to think that it doesn't matter what I do for a living - I'm happy. I like my job, I like my hobbies, I like my life. So why was that butcher paper so depressing? Because I'm looking at a job hunt coming down the pike in the next few months, and that brings up the question that apparently hasn't ever really gone away - what am I going to do with my life?
Still no answer.