Last night, at midnight, my Zimbra account was closed. That’s right – along with the other five hundred-odd recent graduates, I was booted off the web mail server. No more all-campus emails, Moodle post notifications, Syzygy practice updates, GSC weekly newsletters. Of course, despite loathing the ridiculous number of emails I continued to receive daily from listserves that were no longer relevant to me, I was dreadfully unprepared for this change. At 11:45 last night, I hadn’t caught up on my unread emails, I hadn’t transferred the tens of thousands of emails (the unimportant ones of which I had never thought to delete) to my Gmail account, and I hadn’t sent out the obligatory “this is my new address!” email to my friends and professors.
Of course, I knew this change was coming, and like I said, I didn’t want to continue to receive irrelevant emails. So why did I wait till the very, very last minute? Well, I attribute a good part of that to my nature. I’m a procrastinator, and I think I get an adrenaline rush out of racing the clock. But there’s another part too – the same part that’s responsible for this final “goodbye” blog post coming in mid-August.
The Zimbra account closing, the final blog post – these are sure signs that my time as a Carleton student is truly coming to an end.
And as much as I may wish otherwise, I don’t know if I’m ready for that. This isn’t an “I don’t know if I’m ready” statement that actually means “I’m not ready” – I truly don't know.
I know that graduation isn’t the death of all things Carleton – I’ve been through enough Alumni weekends and reunions to tell that that simply isn’t the case. I’ve lived in cities foreign to me and immediately felt at home because of the Carls (many of whom I didn’t even know at Carleton) who lived there and welcomed me. I know that I have a core group of friends who I won’t ever lose touch with, and I know that there are many more who I will become closer with after I’m away from Northfield.
I also know that leaving Carleton doesn't mean that I’m going to stop learning, or stop exploring, or stop adventuring. It doesn’t mean that I have to find a career, settle down, or start playing evening bridge. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m any more mature or responsible or adult than I was a few months ago.
But still. I don’t know if I’m ready to be gone.
But, alas, I am. Although I was at first a little baffled as to how the heck I ended up walking down the isle in a cap and gown...
... when Stevie P. handed me a diploma and it appeared that no one was going to take it back, I eventually settled into the stride of graduation.
Alright, now I’ll answer your question. Oh, what’s that? You didn’t ask me a question? Yes, you did. You’re asking it right now. How do I know this? Because, as is the case with all 2013 college grads, it is a question that I’ve been asked a thousand times in the past several months. It’s as if my statement, “I’m graduating from Carleton in June” or “I just graduated from Carleton” has an extra, unwanted, uninvited appendage.
“What are you doing next year?”
Actually, for quite a while, I didn’t have much of a problem with this question. Whenever someone would ask me, I would simply say, “I don’t know.” No explanation, no elaboration, no excuses. I would say, “I don’t know” and then stare at the question asker. That usually shut them up. I had no problem saying that because I truly didn’t know, at for a long time that didn’t bother me. Towards the end of my senior year, I wanted to focus on my time at Carleton and be fully present there, rather than burying myself in applications and cover letters. Besides, I wasn’t particularly worried about finding something to or other to pay the bills – I was a Biology major and had experience working in research labs, so I figured I could always find someone who needed an extra pair of hands in a lab.
However, as I saw graduation come and go and the summer months pass, that question did start to annoy me. “I don’t know” turned to “I don’t know!” as a reply, and the subsequent stares turned to glares. In truth, although I avoided being buried in applications, I did apply to one thing for next year. One thing, and one thing only. I very much put all of my eggs in one basket, and as the summer wore on and I still hadn’t heard back from the program to which I applied, the silliness of basket with one lonely egg began to dawn on me.
Now, plenty of my friends are gainfully employed (or grad/med schooling) for the upcoming year. One is working for the Peace Corps in Cameroon. One is working for Amazon. One is in med school, one is in grad school. One is an office manager. One is interning at Princeton Africa. Several work in research labs, and one is at Geico.
Others have no idea what they want to do next year, but went on fantastic adventures this summer. One biked across the US to raise money and awareness for AIDS. One hiked the entirety of the Colorado Trail. One worked as a live-in babysitter in Italy for a family that (as it turned out) preferred to live life in only underwear.
I graduated in the second boat. This summer, I moved to Madison, rented a room from a couple of boys and a cat named Sandwich, and nannied forty hours per week for an awesome twelve-year-old. Which, when translated to practice, means I’ve spent my summer paddleboarding on the lake, reading on the beach, going on bike rides, watching movies, drawing, going to u-pick farms, playing board games, playing soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, and rock climbing. All under the guise of “working”.
It’s the best summer after graduation I could have asked for, but I knew that it couldn’t last past August. And so, when June and July passed and I still hadn’t heard back from my one egg, I began to get a little nervous. And then one day, out of the blue, I got a phone call, asking me if I would like to accept a position for the upcoming year.
And I took it.
Oh, what’s that you’re saying? You want still want to know what I’m doing next year?
Oh, alright. You’ve been awfully patient. Here you have it:
Starting in mid-September, I’ll be working as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium’s (SFCCC) Community HealthCorps Street Outreach Services. I’ll be working with San Francisco’s homeless populations, helping provide basic medical services and goods and helping set people up with primary care providers in their area. I’m exceptionally excited for this opportunity, though I know parts of it will be really challenging for me. I grew up in San Francisco, but I haven’t lived there since I was in middle school. I’m so excited to be going back.
So that’s my plan.
Carleton, it’s been a great run. Thank you for everything. Thank you for giving me a place to learn, to grow, to explore, and to make friends. Thank you for putting up with my questions, with my stubbornness, and with my adventures and other shenanigans . And thank you for only censoring one of my blog posts.
But I still can’t imagine why you didn’t want me to put unedited pictures of streakers up on your admissions website.
P.S. A few miscellaneous pictures of end-of-term adventures: