There are two things in my life I don’t miss, but feel like they still call to me. The first one is the active duty Air Force, and the other is college.
The Air Force still calls because of the familiarity and the security. Two paychecks a month, free healthcare, and trips to exotic (and not-so exotic) places is always whispering sweet nothings in my ear, begging me to come back. But that was a past life, and I still participate in the Air Force Reserves, so I get my fix from time to time.
But when it comes to college, my initial thought was that it could scream in my face and I would never go back.
I just finished my last class towards my bachelor’s degree, and I honestly couldn’t be happier. My college career started 13 years ago, and during that time, I deployed for over 800 days, had two children, got divorced, got remarried, separated from the active duty Air Force, quit a federal employee job, and worked about 40-50 hours a week combined between three different jobs, and when to school full time. This graduation feels like a culmination of years spent trying to achieve a goal.
And yet, after 48 hours — I’ve already thought about graduate school.
What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve spent years of my life pumping through pages and pages of academic journals and thesis papers just so I could then write about said academic journals and thesis papers! I watched movies that I would probably never watch in the first place just so I could find one scene and explain how “the director’s underlying meanings becomes prevalent when the lead actor moves her eyes from left to right!” I lost my mind on passive voice versus active voice, only to later realize I had written sentences in passive voice without even noticing!
I feel like a dog that runs away from the vacuum, only to look for it after someone puts it away.
This is not what I expected. I’ve wanted to move on for years now and follow a career path — and yet here I am wondering if graduate school is a good idea now. Am I a glutton for punishment?
I guess I get the saying that, “you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone” plays here, but seriously? I was so wore out at the end, I wrote most of my discussion papers and reports in less than two hours. I thought about ways to skip class, and most of the time I would just not go. Why do I now feel at a loss?
By the end, I was exhausted. Every day, another assignment loomed ahead. Each reading became tedious and dry. I honestly don’t remember the last time I read an entire reading for a class (I became a professional at the art of “skimming”). That is not how I wanted my college career to end — frustrated and fatigued.
There are things I’ll miss, however. I’ll always miss is the projects. Being a communication major meant making a short story on video or writing a script. I had so much fun working with other people and trying out different styles of writing and shooting. I especially liked learning from my mistakes. Being someone that is overly critical of myself, I liked being forced to put something out there so someone could say, “I like what you did here, but this could have been done better here.”
I’ll also miss the friends I made. I know at times group projects stalled as we all got irritated by questions and additions, but I will never forget the people I worked with in class.
And my professors — many whom have tried to help me out with job hunting — I’ll never forget. Feeling hope that I could take my knowledge from school and transform it in to a career gave me such drive, and my professors were always there to try and make that happen.
Okay, so I guess I do miss college… A little.
I guess my fear is that I didn’t learn enough. As I apply for positions, I go back to everything I’ve learned, only to wonder if I have what it takes. Yesterday I woke up and wondered, “What the hell am I going to do now that I don’t have homework?”
My goal has always been to get better at things I enjoy, so that may be why college still calls to me. I spent years learning many concepts and practices, and yet I feel like I’m still lacking the proper knowledge to really succeed. And even though near the end I wanted nothing to do with anyone in college, I couldn’t have survived without the good times.
So, for now, I’ll take the life experience over the new college experience. But if in a couple years you see I’m back in the school mix again, just assume the little voice convinced me to go back and beat myself up again.