You're Not Going to Die

The problem with being really close to finishing your thesis is that it comes with many increasingly persistent questions:

“What are you going to do now?”

“What jobs have you applied to?”

“Are you aware of how many thousands of dollars in student debt you’re responsible for?”

“How are you going to afford rent?”

“Do you have a plan?”

All of which translate to:

When are you going to hurry up and be the adult the world expects you to be?

Seven years ago, when I declared English as my major, I saw these questions off in the distance, prowling the horizon. I’ll be the first to admit I still don’t know the answers to them. And while that’s a serious cause for concern for what seems like pretty much everyone in my life, it is in the face of these questions that I find myself decidedly unafraid.

And why shouldn’t I be?

I’ve already spent enough time wallowing in self-pity, fear, and doubt over who I am and what I’m going to do with the rest of my life. I’ve already panicked over my student loans. I’ve already looked at how expensive apartments are. I’ve already seen how few jobs there are, and even fewer that appeal to me. I’ve already imagined life on my own, out there in the dark, scary real world.

And I’ve made peace with all of it.

This is not to say I do not recognize the necessity of income, housing, and food. I can’t live without these things. I don’t even need my two English degrees to tell me that.

I recognize that I cannot sit passively by and expect to be handed a job and an apartment. I recognize that I will need to work hard to achieve these things, and that I am solely responsible for them.

But why make myself sick over it?

I’m not going to die.

There are people far dumber than me (and you) who are doing just fine.

These are the facts.

I do not presume the transition to adulthood will be an easy one. Indeed, it hasn’t been so far. But, I believe the best way to make that transition is with the proper perspective — one that enables you to walk into the unknown calm, collected, and confident.

Even if you have no idea what you want to do…

No matter how many thousands of dollars you owe the government…

Even if you’re not sure who you are…

You’re not going to die.

You will answer these questions in due time.

Always ask yourself: what’s the worst thing that could happen? Chances are it’s not that bad.

I’m sure many will mistake my equanimity for naiveté, laziness, and apathy. This is fine. Most people are more concerned with the lives of others than with their own.

But in truth, beneath my foolish calm is a sense of great excitement. Because I can’t wait to be on my own. To come home to my own apartment. To cook my own food. To start my own career, and to find out what that ends up being. It’s not a question of “Are these things going to happen?” Of course they are; it’s a matter of when.

I’m excited to start my own life. In thirty years, I’ll be telling my kids, “I know it’s scary. But, what’s the worst that could happen? You’re not going to die.”

That’s going to be a good day.

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