As I considered which piece to publish next in my retrospective of work from the past year, I realized I was also considering how those pieces related to where I find myself today. The two pieces you’ll find below come from two very different Megans, each exemplifying one of the two emotional extremes I felt in my final year of University. The first, an optimistic thought piece on the concept of growth and change, was written as I entered the school year, and the second, a more melancholy reflection of saying goodbye to my life in Montreal, was written one week before I graduated.
Now, many months older than I was when the first was written, and still healing from the wounds the second explores, I comfortably fall somewhere in the middle. I still miss my school friends and the feeling of home that Montreal provided, but I am full of hope for the future. As I continue my job search and begin to settle here in SF, I find myself looking forward to creating a life for myself here; one that I’m sure I will love like the one I had.
Entering my final year of University, I can’t measure how much I’ve changed since I started my first. I’m a completely different person than who I was a year ago, and if given an introduction, the person I was three years ago wouldn’t even recognize me. In a short period of dramatic growth, I have exceeded my expectations in making strides towards becoming the woman my younger self always hoped to be, especially in an environment in which I originally predicted not much metamorphosis would occur.
Up until now, the spirit of change has come as a lonely source of excitement amidst a world of boxed in decisions and set futures. As long as I can remember I have known I would attend University – but which one? What friends would I make? A comfortable level of adaptability and expression within a fixed path. But now, as the ambiguous abyss of our entire lives comes into view, the unknown has the potential to bring about more anxiety than excitement.
I can feel the tensions rising around me as friends and peers are beginning to face the question of life after graduation, and what that might entail for them. Some are taking the LSAT and heading to graduate school, others are planning gap years, plenty already have jobs lined up while many, like myself, have absolutely no destination in mind after they pack their bags. However, in a situation that should be riddled with fear, I have been able to remain blindly optimistic. How?
I think I realized it when a friend of mine mentioned to me that, caught in a wave of anxiety brought about by the thought of life after University, she had created a mood board to inspire her young adult life and to give her things to look forward to. On it were pictures of apartments, outfits, and Brittany Murphy’s famously lost yet truly aspirational character from Uptown Girls. The idea of a mood board struck me, and suddenly my mind was lost in a mess of all the things I realized I was looking forward to after university. But most importantly, among all this inspiration, I wondered who I would be once I was living in that lovely apartment, in my favorite city, wearing those fabulous clothes. I knew, after so much growth as a person in so many ways, that my development was far from over – and I began to get excited at the idea that in 1 year, or 5 years, or 10 years, I would be an even better version of myself at this moment, all the while loving who I will be in those moments.
The more I grow, the more I realize that maturity isn’t the absence of change, it’s the acceptance of it. Young adulthood is not knowing the person you’ll be in a year, and excitement at the thought of meeting them. After 21 years of constant evolution, I’ve finally come to the understanding that, of course, remaining stagnant is crippling, change is inevitable, and that I will constantly be growing and shifting and morphing until the day I leave this earth. After 21 years, as I head out into the world without a plan, the excitement at that very notion now rests at the core of my existence.
A life I’ve graduated from
And here I am again, another threshold I’m terrified of crossing.
An inner turmoil paralyzes me with fear; of the future, of leaving my past behind. In less than a week I say goodbye to, and graduate from, a life that has made me feel more like myself than I thought possible. Before this life, I didn’t know I could be as happy as I have been.
Here I have experienced both a home and an escape. This place, and the people in it, has provided shelter when I was scared, and provided inspiration when I needed to grow. I will miss the peaceful ease with which everyone goes about their business, and the relaxed yet purposeful pace that life seems to move by at.
Every once in a while there are moments where all I feel is gratitude for the life I have been fortunate enough to lead these past few years. But once those moments end, all I feel is pain.
I feel loss at the thought of leaving so many things I love so dearly. I feel anxiety for all the worries my adult self will experience. I feel panic when considering how little self assurance I seem to have at the moment when I need it most. I feel guilt for thinking that these goodbyes are dragging on too long, and I feel failure at my inability to feel connected to the present moment, where I still have access to peace.
Most importantly, I am sad. I am just so sad that it’s over.
I know that one day this won’t be so. I know that one day I will look on these days with nostalgia and warmth, appreciating them without mourning their ending. I will look at my life around me and feel the same way I have for these past few years: boundlessly happy, and yet almost blind to it.
But today is not that day, and that’s alright as well. As a dear friend once said, I am so lucky to have things that are so hard to leave.