So, that’s it. I’m offically a Master of Arts.
Huh. Sounds like a title you require in Dungeons & Dragons, doesn’t it?
How do I feel about it then? Five years of academic studies and now I’m done and ready for the labour market.
I feel ambivalent at best. It has all been so very long-drawn-out and anti-climatic. No official celebration given by the university of our institute before November. Until then I’ll probably just get a diploma in my mailbox.
I don’t even feel particularly relieved or exhilarated that it’s officially over.
“Do you know what you want to do now?”, my parents asked me.
“No. I do not know what I will do,” I sighed. I’ve waited so long for the lightning to hit, yet it never came, and now – when I need it more than ever – the sky is cloudless.
Except in my mind.
“Don’t worry,” they said, “you have the advantage of not being bound by anything or anyone, unlike many of your peers, think of that. No house, family or boyfriend. Nothing to hold you back. You are free to choose wherever you want to go, work or live, for how long and so on.”
“Yes, well …”
“Don’t worry, you’ll figure it out. It will be alright, you’ll see.”
I cannot seem to outwardly voice what’s nagging me – still – by this very common and normal response.
The thing is: Nothing has ever held me back. ‘No house, no family of my own, no boyfriend’. I can’t help repeating those particular words in my head and heart, though they are essentially besides the question of my current career musings.
Yet, hearing those words they somehow hurt the most. Because the hole that’s left inside of me is not one of self-actualization as much as it is of a loneliness that never had anyone but that self to lean on and – out of necessity – actualize.
True, I’m not bound by anything or anyone. But … How am I then to know if I ever will?
Is it simply the proof that you can only ever rely and lean on yourself and have to go through life more or less lonely? We are all lonely, right? Then why do I see happiness, goals and twosomeness – in some form or another – in so many of those around me; strangers as well as close ones?
Can I go on and live my life and wait for the things in life I seek the most but never seem to reach?
However, I have every opportunity now to reach those things, haven’t I? I just need to find out where to begin. After all, now I’m finally free to do whatever I want to.
But the possibilities are so endless that I cannot see the wood for the trees. I’ve tried to let it go, carpe diem, and let life take its course; help others and be their voice of support, only to sink into ennui and realize I am also responsible for the course of my own life to take off.
I know, in a sense, I’m utterly privileged and greedy – a typical product of my generation I think – when I critique the very freedom I’ve sought after for so long and finally reached; reaching the end of the tunnel and realizing it has a different light than what I imagined. That freedom also holds you captured; holds you accountable for its very existence. I’m bound to its existence as it is bound to me for survival. I cannot go on living without making a living. Without essentially selling my skills, myself. Adulthood is brutal in such realizations. You begin to understand more closely the fate of the homeless; why some people just don’t manage to live up to all of it and hold it together. (Not that there’s a direct link; I’m just making abstract thought here).
The worst thing is, I can already see it painted out for me: Of me sitting as an old woman talking about all the smalltown jobs and failed careers I had in my late 20s and all through my 30s, but how I eventually found my true profession and settled down in my 40s, working for two more tranquil decades before retiring and enjoying my life as a senior citizen until I die. Perfectly normal and typical existence for most people, no matter how radical they thought or behaved in their youth, rebelling against conventionality and normalcy. I will probably laugh at the ‘silly’ insecurities of my youth; these very thoughts and confessions I write here.
And I feel positively torn about this image. ‘Cause when I ask myself if that’s what I want I’m not sure. On the one hand, a sound ‘NO!’, but on the other hand I can see no point in fighting it off if it will more or less happen anyway, some time or another.
Yet, making my life the adventure I want to experience frightens me, because I want to protect myself, hide away and live my life in peace as well. Never disturbing anyone but helping out if needed. So far I’ve lived just fine by having my adventures through imagination and fiction alone mostly. So why can it not just go on as it always had? Why do I still have this rebellious feeling that I’m not giving myself the chance of discovering the world and the people in it if I keep on going like this?
“Adventures do occur, but not punctually. Life never gives us what we want at the moment that we consider appropriate”, E. M. Forster described so accurately in A Passage to India.
So, this is freedom: Not knowing anything about the future.
But deep down I know something. Something pulls.
What if I – at the moment – just want my own little house by the sea, get a dog and write about everything I find important and true in this world?
Can I just do it?
I am beginning to miss the sea air more and more. Having grown up near the sea, the salt is in my blood, I realize. A house by the sea. My sanctuary. Yes. I feel myself being pulled towards certain aspects of life that I should not spend my time wanting and pondering upon right now.
Do I believe in destiny and fate and all that? I’m not sure. Some things just seem too coincidental, interconnected and lucky sometimes in my experience. But I also just think that some are born luckier than others, by chance, and yet that luck will always vary for each person throughout life.
I’m blessed with things and people in my life and no matter how much I dive into those things and for how long, I hold other things about my own life back or put them on pause. So much that – when I return – I realize that no matter how much I help other people or invest myself in other matters, my own worries will not be solved by themselves. Because they are still there. Still insignificant and small compared to so many fates in this world – and yet so significant and persistent that I fear a depression has clouded the sanctuary I called my loneliness; where I used to find inspiration and tranquility and now seem to have run exhausted. I’ve gotten stuck and yet, I am freer than ever. Why, I can hardly move outside the door of my otherwise so amazing and central apartment in an otherwise so amazing city where there’s everything the heart could desire! Why is that?
I think I need to find a new sanctuary. Something different than where I’m used to look or supposed to look. The routine and sameness have already become too much, despite I really have nothing to complain about. An inner voice screams that I want something that is entirely my own, something true and free of anything bureaucratic and capitalistic (*scoffs* yeah, like that is ever going to happen, especially now at a time where I have to put myself into more systems than ever). It screams of a self-reliant, hermit-like existence that seems ludicrous at best.
Not entirely impossible, however.
But such a self-made fate also foretells a future that is possibly even more lonely and alienated, if I’m not careful. Especially – and what I fear the most – from everyone I hold most dear. You cannot have it both ways and it’s selfish either way. However, right now, my current, existential confusion grasps at anything concrete and can only come up with this sufficient alternative at the moment, no matter how desolate it may be in the long run.
Funny how I am forced to think about my life when it’s all I ever do.
No, not true, I am forced to think about my life in reality. It’s something I’d rather postpone.
I think I need to stop bending to the idea of a conventional life when I am not a conventional person.
Meanwhile, I still hope for the stroke of lightning.