By Julien-Pierre Campbell
As junior year creeps up on me, I can’t help but feel nervous. There’s a question I can’t seem to dodge: “Julien, what do you want to do when you graduate?”
The answer is…everything.
I used to think I knew exactly what my life would look like. I’d graduate with my degree in political science at 20, shoot into law school and begin practicing law by 24. At the latest! It took a depression spiral that lasted three straight months to realize I hated my degree. The goal shifted: I’d be an English undergrad –for my sanity– and then go to law school! So maybe I would graduate at 21, but that didn’t negate my success.
Other careers tempted me. Wouldn’t it be nice to work in publishing, to join my father in the business that had brought him so much joy? Or perhaps I’d be a non-descript academic, reading scholarly articles and sipping brandy in front of a fire. Maybe I would run away to the countryside and work for a historical society. I could throw away the life I’d made for myself in Oregon and go be a Revolutionary War reenactor on the East Coast. Or I could give into my passion for taxidermy and find an apprenticeship. Or work in an old folks’ home. Or a mortuary.
The problem is, I can’t decide.
Nineteen feels deceptively young to call myself an adult. Though I live on my own, pay rent, take care of an animal that depends on me and have all the experiences of any young 20-something, I can’t shake the notion that I’m still very much a child. I feel intelligent, but not mature. This leaves me in a sort of a limbo.
I want to shout, “Why in the world am I deciding my future when I can’t even go to a bar?”
At the same time, I want to ask why I can’t do everything I want. Why not work in publishing, while writing in my free time, volunteering for a historical society, and retiring to the East Coast? Why not be a wandering poet who just so happens to have an eerie knowledge of law?
When I think about life after these next two years, my chest clenches — with fear, but also anticipation. I’m so excited to begin the rest of the life, even if I’m not exactly sure how.