Too fast, too furious

Anyone who I’ve come in contact with for the last week knows: I’m in panic mode.

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Why? Well, I called my academic advisor the other day to clear my classes for next semester. I’m trying to study abroad. All the classes I chose were fine, they would count for credit, okay. But then, at the end of the conversation, she said something very unsettling.

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Excuse me?

In about a year, I would have to get cleared for graduation? Say what now? My brain short-circuited. For the next minute, I could only form one thought.

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I didn’t know what to do. I’ve only been in college for two years, or four semesters. And I’ve only taken classes for three of those semesters. I’m graduating in 5 semesters– 2 and a half years of schooling– which means I’ll be out and about in the real world before I turn 21.

So, yeah.

I freaked out.

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I’m just completely and utterly bewildered. Do I start looking at grad schools now? Do I start studying for the GRE’s? I’ve never befriended a professor, so I’m in no position to get good recommendations. I want to do something that I will like, will love, even, something that will make me happyBut if I knew what that was– well, I wouldn’t be writing this now.

My impending graduation feels some sort of giant freight train that is inevitably going to smash me to pieces.

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Am I really supposed to know what I want to do? Is anyone supposed to know? All my friends seem to be pre-med or computer science or engineering or pharmacy and they all have their lives planned out in a neat little Excel spreadsheet. My family always urges me to have a plan. A plan for success. A plan to ensure your financial stability. Having a plan helps secure your future, I don’t doubt that.

But how do you have a plan when you don’t have some higher calling? How do you have a plan when you haven’t “found yourself?” How do you have a plan when you have no particular, spectacular talents?

I’ve been freaking out to everyone. My friends are probably sick of my complaining by now. I told my sister. Now, my readers. I called my dad.

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I guess the only way to move is forward.

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25 thoughts on “Too fast, too furious

  1. Yo. If you can, just stay in college for the whole four years. Or at least one more year. I was thinking about graduating early, but EVERYONE told me not to. College is awesome and you are still meeting people and finding out about yourself. Take some fun classes, get to know a professor or two, and you can study for GREs while exploring. Don’t feel too rushed Vy! You don’t have to graduate right away if you don’t want to.

  2. Honestly, this is nothing to be worried about foo’! If anything, this is awesome!!! The possibilities are endless for you and you don’t have to rush to do it. Graduating at such a young age means you have more time to mess up and figure out what you actually want to do by TRYING it. People take forever in undergrad switching majors, f’ing up classes thinking that they are making switches to pursue what they want, only to figure out that it is the OPPOSITE of what they want when they actually go out to do it. Now you have a chance to try and take your time doing so! So you want to try out another co-op? Why not! take that time to figure out if you really want to do grad school, and if so, for what, and what tests you want to take. Study abroad again? Why not! Northeastern fricken pays for it. Get a real job? Why not! College grads never stay at their first job for more than a year anyways. There is no rush. You gots time.

    • I actually want to do another co-op, but I heard that at NU you can’t be on co-op the semester of graduation– your last semester has to be in class. (I need to ask my advisor, though)
      Aghhh, to talk to the parents, the possibilities are basically 2: Get a job and make no money, or go to grad school and– surprise– be a doctor. x__x Dad is SOOOOO excited that I can graduate early. To be honest, there are still so many classes I want to take, like a compsci class, and an envisci class, and art classes… but I also don’t want to waste time and money/be a pansy stalling the inevitable. Maybe a year really is a long time, and I’ll be more okay with this later???
      Another study abroad would be BOSS. Might as well milk NU for all its worth, right? If I do end up finishing next spring, I WILL do another short-term study abroad that summer before graduating and NO ONE WILL BE ABLE TO STOP ME!

  3. That was hilar- wait a second. Is it right to be laughing at something like that? I hope that you can find your “calling” or “place in the universe” or…. uuuhhhh…… “job”.

    From Straw Hat Luffy

    P.S. VYYYY!!! I had a great time talking with you! And playing with you! VVYYYY!!! You better make that comic that you want to make! I’m only making mine because YOU inspired me!!! Not even One Piece inspired me that much!! You got me on comics and wanting to create my own!! No, wait! Don’t you exit out this window yet! MAKE YOUR COMIC!!! FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!

        • But, seriously, I want it to be so ridiculously complex and expansive (quite unrealistically so) that it would be like an in-depth study of real life. Except, not real life, a comic book series. Crazy!

          • Nothing’s wrong with a little ambition as long as you’re truly motivated enough! And hey, comics can be quite a realistic study of human nature. Have you ever read Y: The Last Man or Ex Machina? I feel like, based on your ideas, you might like those comics.

            • Thanks a lot for the recommendations!! I will use ideas I like and use them as influences. While we’re at it, would you know of any type of rating system for comic books? Like, rating systems I use are Rotten Tomatoes for movies and IMDb for TV shows, and I have had great success with these websites. In fact, I use these websites for EVERY movie/TV show I watch. Would you know of any website that rates comic books like those guys do?

            • I WISH there was something like that! I always end up reading people’s “Top Ten” lists for recommendations or checking out the “reception” section in Wikipedia. IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes are so handy– quick, somebody make one for comics too!

  4. Whoa, the three of us commented like three minutes apart from one another. BUT THEY ARE TOTALLY RIGHT!! You have so much time now! Use that tine to plan what you want to do with your life. And then… MAKE THAT COMIC THAT YOU WANT TO MAKE!!!

  5. You’re right, it’s too soon. You should stay in school for another year or more if you can. Especially if you don’t have a lot of classes or exams, it could be a really enjoyable time in your life. I stayed in university for 9 years. Eventually they said, look, here’s your PhD, just go. And I emerged blinking into the harsh light of the real world. But during those years I had no timetables, no exams, loads of time for student activities, societies, sitting around drinking coffee.

    Oh and by the way, well done on getting everything done so quickly!

    • I enjoy your image of the “harsh light of the real world.” Not that I’ve been there, but it sounds accurate!
      If you don’t mind me asking, how was your graduate school experience? I’m probably going to try for a master’s or PhD (since a bachelor’s in bio doesn’t make me much) so I’d love to hear about your path to a PhD!

      • I don’t mind at all.

        I didn’t do a master’s degree, just a PhD, so I had no taught courses at all after I graduated with a BE. The PhD was interdisciplinary (Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Science) which has the huge advantage that you don’t have to find some fantastically specialised topic.

        A possible disadvantage is having two academic supervisors, but it wasn’t a problem for me because they were both so good, I was lucky to have them.

        My doctorate took about 5 years (mainly because I was in no hurry. You would probably do it in 2!). During those 5 years I did some teaching as a part-time lecturer in another 3rd-level institution; I was able to earn a little bit as a research assistant or laboratory assistant with our own college’s undergrads; and I landed a very sweet role in a research programme that involved travel to various European cities on expenses, and with enough pay for me to have a fairly good life by student standards.

        I also enjoyed student life a lot: got very involved in the Philosophy Society, and made good and lasting friendships. I went to the library and read books completely unrelated to my study, I learned languages, I messed around with computers. My post-grad years were just a really good time for me. At the end I had to write up my thesis, which was a bit of a slog, but my average workload during the 5 years was probably well into the “slacker” zone.

        • That sounds… well, amazing and ideal! You got to travel and enjoy student life and get an awesome interdiscipinary degree on top of that!
          I’m assuming you earned your PhD in Ireland, right? Do European graduate schools accept international students? Since one of my goals is to travel, I’m seriously looking into doing grad school abroad– but I don’t know how much a foreign degree appeals to American employers.

          And thank you for telling me about your experiences! It sounds as though your grad life was pretty awesome, even more awesome than undergrad life.

          • Post-grad was much better than undergrad for me, partly because I struggled with the workload and the difficulty of the material during my BE degree course, so I was stressed a lot of the time. Also it was pretty much full time (lectures and labs 9 to 5, unlike my fellow students in Arts, Commerce or Law) so I didn’t have as much chance to take part in other aspects of student life.

            Irish and European universities love to get international students from the US. It’s expensive though because they charge full fees for non-EU students. The attractiveness of the degree probably depends on the employer or on the perceived prestige of the university.

  6. It’s perfectly normal to experience this at some point. A lot of people don’t get this way until they, actually, are out and trying to get into whatever area they have trained for. Not having a plan just means you need to begin making one. You have a year. Think about what you would like to do and where. If that doesn’t pan out, figure out what you will try next. You can just find any old job and wing it for a year or two. It’s okay if you are not entirely ready for this. It is a big thing ,but not an impossible tihng.
    May i suggest a book? “Do what you love and the money will follow” – try it!
    Oh, and congratulations! It is a big deal. Get excited and happy.
    Scott

    • I’ll have to take your book recommendation– it sounds like the kind of thing that will help! I suppose a year is at least a little while to figure out what I want to do. I guess it’s better that I face this now than later, when I’m already tied down and settled in a job!
      Thank you for your advice! I appreciate it 🙂

    • Thank you! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
      I’m definitely hoping life after college is awesome! Every time I talk to an adult, they always tell me about how college was the best times of their lives. Which makes me wonder: why does adulthood have to be any worse? I’ll definitely be reading your blog as I get closer to facing the real world!

      • Haha, I feel ya – I’ve met with the same responses. Don’t believe a word of it, man – the best years are ahead! Just don’t fall into the trap believing they’re not (otherwise, they won’t be!) Best of luck in your comics (you’re seriously great! Very talented).

  7. Hey, Vy! Firstly, sorry I’ve been so lax with keeping up with your blog as of late. This semester is CRAZY, debate is crazy, everything is crazy and so when I’m not working or staying late in the squad room or cramming homework, I’m sleeping. XD Anyway, on this post in particular:

    First off, congratulations on even obtaining the opportunity to graduate from college so young. It’s definitely not something you see terribly commonly, which makes you special and it’s just a showcase of your brilliance and hard work. I can definitely understand being nervous, though, and I can actually offer some more unique insight to you–I’ll be graduating from college at age 18, so I know exactly how your situation goes.

    It’s wonderful. But it is REALLY scary. Your out-of-control-freight-train example is pretty correct. There’s just a monolith of responsibly and a mountain of questions and doubts that comes down on you and I completely understand feeling apprehensive, overwhelmed, or just plain out FREAKED about it.

    Now, obviously, it’s your life and your choice, but I’m going to have to disagree with a couple of the other comments people have been making. College is awesome, that’s absolutely valid and true, but it’s still…a training ground, so to speak. Its usefulness to you will come in a material form of a diploma. Yes, of course you’ll have opportunities and experiences, but those are not purely dependent on–in fact, they could be considered mutually exclusive of–being IN college. It’s the people you’re meeting, the places you’re going, the things you’re doing–THAT is what makes it an experience. If you have the opportunity to get the diploma early, TAKE IT. You will absolutely still have learning and growing experiences at your hands in the “real world.” You’ll still have friends! There are so many options to you. Grad school, trying to get a real job right off the bat, etc. Really and truly the world would be at your doorstep.

    There’s a poem I’m doing for a speech interpretation called “The Edge,” that I’m really liking as of late and I guess I’ll try to sum it up for you. It basically states that we need to stop taking the “edge” off of our lives and do something we’re terrified of. The edge is what brilliance is MADE of. You dangle over the edge in your nightmares but you never KNOW what is off that edge until you jump. So JUMP. You won’t regret it.

    Again, this is entirely your choice and whether or not you actually end up graduating early should be YOUR choice. Don’t let your parents pressure you into it! But as somebody who graduated from high school a full four years early, I know that the “awesome experiences” people told me I was missing out on would happen regardless. Your glory days won’t end if you graduate early, I promise. No matter what, congrats on the opportunity and I hope your semester is going well! 🙂

    • Thank you Kate! I understand the craziness of a busy semester– I was just there two months ago! (And soon will be again once my co-op is done)
      You know, I think you’re right. As much as I’d love to stick around undergrad a little longer, it would just be plain silly to do so. Life still keeps going once college is done, right?
      I guess the problem I’m having is not that I’m unwilling to jump, but I don’t know where to jump to. I went through high school with one destination in mind: a good college. I was hoping that, in college, I’d find a new destination to aim for. But now, I have a year left, not much time to decide, and I still have no idea where I’d like to jump. If I had a real passion, a goal, I think I’d be less worried and more willing to take that risk.
      But, thank you for your great advice! You’re facing all of this at a much earlier age than I am, which is completely incredible! If I’M a showcase of brilliance and hard work, you’re an example of genius. Good luck with the rest of your semester, and I hope you’re doing well!

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