About two weeks out from graduation and fully submerged into stress, I accidentally developed a new favorite phrase. When one of my coworkers asked me how I was doing, I pointedly responded that I strongly desired to, “jump off a short bridge into deep water.” It was such a perfect sentiment. All the ceremony of dying without any of the consequences. And plenty of dramatic flair.
Of course that’s all over now. Last assignments are written, assessment portfolios are turned in, final papers are graded and submitted. Long, black robes and “Pomp and Circumstance” are slipping away from fragile memories. Hell, even my official diploma has already arrived in the mail, placed into its leather folder and packed away to be quickly forgotten. My time at the university I’ve called my second home for six years is officially over.
The feelings of slowly sinking, however, have not subsided.
Once finals were over and my teaching duties came to an end, I expected to encounter a substantial feeling of relief. The weight lifting off my shoulders, so to speak. But any moments of calm in the past two weeks have felt artificial at best. A trip to the zoo with my boyfriend and best friend was guilt-inducing. Days not spent on job searches or PhD applications feel wasted. Spending even a small fraction of my graduation gift money seems criminal. The future is constantly looming over me, and I will not truly be able to relax until I have a concrete plan for the next twelve months of my life.
Applying for jobs is my full-time job now, and it is not a job I’m very good at yet. I met with one of my former professors yesterday for a job application workshop, and he obliterated my materials (though I mean that in a good way, I promise). It is comforting to know that someone still has my back and is really pushing me to be my best. It is also comforting to know that he will help me represent myself as well as I can and get me a great job in a reasonable time frame. But the whole process is so incredibly overwhelming. So many postings, so many genre conventions, so many differences between types of jobs. Even with help I can hardly keep it all straight. And as soon as I secure some sort of position, I have to throw myself into PhD applications.
I’m headfirst in deep water by now, but I did not jump willingly. I was thrown overboard. Here’s to hoping I don’t drown.