I am Emily Walker, and I am a senior at the College of William and Mary. No wait, that is no good — let’s try again. I am Emily Walker, and I am a senior in high school. There we go, that sounds much better. Despite the added clout and respect I merit when proclaiming my current academic status at the College, being a senior in high school was a scenario with which I was much more comfortable. After all, when I was a senior in high school and a probing adult asked me what my plans “post-graduation” were, I could confidently reply that I was attending a distinguished four-year school in the esteemed state of Virginia. They would then smile and nod approvingly, since I was simply following the same path as was the majority of my fellow students. I had four years ahead of me during which there would be no need to make life-altering decisions, during which my housing and meals would be taken care of and during which people would be there to alert me if and when I needed to take cover from menacing storms. Now, when asked the same dreaded “post-graduation” question, I tend to develop shifty eyes, laugh uncomfortably, and then sprint in the opposite direction as fast as my “I’m-in-denial-that-I-am-a-senior-and-have-no-idea-what-I-am-doing-with-my-life” legs will take me.
Now, don’t get me wrong here; I am not completely directionless or clueless as to my future. Yes, I plan on attending graduate school. No, I have not done anything concrete to put this plan into action. Yes, I want to take a year off in order to discover my life goals and purpose. No, I don’t want to be homeless on the streets in Washington, D.C. during this year. Yes, I would love to travel around the world willy-nilly with only a backpack — and my cell phone, laptop, iPod and parent’s credit card. No, I have no funds to pay for this adventure. This is where I am. While I have numerous answers to the post-grad question, I have very little with which to back any of them up.
For the most part, my senior friends seem to be divided between two camps. On one end of the spectrum is the uber-motivated crowd – the ones who have known for years that they will graduate from the College and proceed immediately into medical school, business school, law school, graduate school, the Peace Corps, Teach for America or some other worthy cause. You can recognize these seniors as the ones with hefty GRE or LSAT books peeking out of their backpacks and determined looks in their eyes. These are the ones who will be attending the mock interviews at the Career Center and speaking enthusiastically with any adult lucky enough to ask them what their plans are after graduation. On the other end… well, I will spare you that description, as it will only make me more anxious.
The word “senioritis” has developed a new meaning for me. It has ceased to be an itching, antsy urge to fly the nest and get out of town. No longer is it a bout of procrastination or a slew of senior pranks. Instead, it is a potent, nauseating illness that causes listlessness and an inability to make decisions, and superhuman motivation and purpose in others, giving a new meaning to the term “class rivalry”.
But for now, when older and wiser folks inquire as to my grandiose plans following May 15, 2011, I will respond as follows: I intend to spend many leisurely afternoons sitting in a sun-drenched cafe, reading, drinking coffee and expanding my intellect. I will buy a lottery ticket on a whim on my way home from an indie film, and I will unexpectedly win. Using my newly obtained riches, I will travel extensively and meet inspiring people who will guide me toward my true passion in life. On approximately Nov. 27, 2011, I will have an epiphany regarding my future career and how I will attain it. I will apply to the requisite schools and, naturally, get in. I will spend the remainder of the year farming alpacas, harvesting their fiber, and knitting thick sweaters and mittens in the mountains of Peru. Beat that.