June 18, 2024

The number of people who have asked me that question have increased each week as the semester progresses. More and more of my friends are becoming aware of me graduating at the end of this fall. All have shown an interest in what I will be doing with my extra time. Frankly, I tell them all something different because at this point, I just don’t know.

Originally, back when I first realized I had the opportunity to graduate early, I planned on applying for graduate school to earn my master’s degree and start in the spring of 2022. I would be efficient and use the time wisely to get ahead in my academic career. Taking the GRE would occur this fall, and all my letters of recommendation would be submitted before fall break.

Clearly, with all my chaotic thoughts and scheduled events and happenings already this semester, my original plan has fallen through.

I then readdressed myself, asking what I truly wanted. I still wished to go to grad school and possibly return to the areas of North Carolina that I fell in love with this past year. Possibly attending school in fall of 2022 was more practical. I could take the GRE over the summer without the stress of academics weighing me down. In the spring and early summer, I could acquire a lab technician job somewhere other than the south, maybe out west in Oregon or California. Experience, in my opinion, is key for a successful future.

This sounded good when I birthed the thoughts. It still all sounds good now. So why am I hesitant?

Maybe it’s because I am not ready to leave my friends in Kappa Delta behind. Maybe it’s because deep down I know there is just too much unfinished business between me and Wittenberg at this moment, and I have a deep desire to finalize it all before I depart. Maybe it’s because there’s so much uncertainty for me after graduation when it comes to graduate school. Maybe it’s because there’s so much going on right now it’s hard to see that far into the future.

Maybe it’s all those things. Or, for once, perhaps time is a gift, and I should use it in a nonacademic stance. I imagine myself in Italy or New Zealand, traveling the diverse cultures of another country for the first time in my life. To achieve such peace of mind and soul sounds magical, but in my mind it seems treacherous. I fear that if I leave my academic path to wander on one glitzed with abroad fantasy, I may never return to the one riddled with opportunity, education and scientific research.

Describing these scenarios to friends is fun because I get to live, for a moment, believing that I will go through with whatever plan I tell them. Each plan seems so much like something I would do. Each friend offers different advice and indicates what they would do with that extra time. I listen to them, taking in their words without being pressured to do what they think I should do. I know the decision is my own, and the point in time where I must decide which path to take is slowing appearing on the horizon.

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