Archived Story

Caught between college and what comes next

Published 11:31am Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The hazards of continuing to live in a college town after you graduate, coupled with working long hours out of town, means that your social group remains primarily college students.

Aside from my husband, most of my friends are people with whom I worship at church – and all of them are still college.

It’s not a bad thing. We still share a lot in common and have roughly the same interests.

But it’s been a year now since I’ve had anything to add to conversations about tough tests, demanding professors, bleak all-nighters and unfair grades.

And few people with whom I spend my free time really understand my daily life – what it’s like to juggle a full-time career with being a wife and trying to keep up with the laundry.

But it’s an awkward time, because I also have trouble identifying with the 29-30somethings who are wrangling toddlers. Aside from the fact that they have wildly different schedules from mine – my husband is the only person I know who is willing to put up with not eating dinner until 8 p.m. or later – I have a very limited range of knowledge to use to share in their struggles or swap advice.

What am I getting at here? I really don’t know, except that some days I feel like I’m still trying to figure out who I am.

I thought college was the time to discover your identity. You find a little freedom, try new things and learn who you really are.

And I did, to a certain extent.

But a year removed from graduation, I’m still spending time trying to figure out where I belong.

Maybe it’s a little like being Wendy in Peter Pan – too old for the nursery anymore but scared of the grown-up world.

Am I scared? Maybe. It’s hard to be sure.

Maybe it’s not that I can’t identify with the young couples who have traded all-nighters in the library for all-nights up with screaming 1-year-olds. Maybe it’s that I’m afraid of trying – or afraid of succeeding.

All I know for sure is that I’m in a transition period … again. It makes me wonder if maybe all of life is a balancing act, of toggling back and forth as you try to figure out who you are and where you belong.

But unlike some other transitions in my life – from elementary to middle school, for example – I’m happy. I’m happy with what I do have figured out, like my career and my husband, and I’m willing to wait and see what happens on the rest.

And that makes all the difference.

James is a staff writer for The Outlook.