The waiting game

On Monday night, my housemate found out she would be spending the summer in Africa. She received a phone call from QPID, choosing her as a co-operant for their Burkina Faso project.

The past couple of months have been fairly chaotic in our household because November tends to be a particularly disconcerting time to be a fourth-year student. It’s usually when talk of the future—or at least what you’ll be doing after graduation—reaches a fever pitch. I should know; I’m living it, and so are four of my housemates. And what we’re all asking ourselves is, “When did having too many options become a bad thing?” We each have different aspirations: one wants to go to med school, one wants to work in business, one wants to teach, one wants to be a journalist and how one is going to Africa. We’re all drowning in our own grad school applications and job applications, while also applying for every summer internship we can get our hands on. We have nightly conversations about what we see ourselves doing a year from now, and what we want our post-student life to be like.

We’re all in a state of continuous uncertainty, waiting for the big envelope in the mail, or the phone call offering us the interview. It feels like we’re in grade 12 again, except we’re older, wiser and getting ready to begin “real life.” For the next few months, we’ll be contending with assignments, exams and the reality of facing an uncertain future.

In April, we’ll have degrees. Real ones. As a university graduate, numerous opportunities await us … as long as we can convince our future employer or graduate school that we are more capable than the multitudes of other graduates all vying for the same job or spot that we are.

Getting the mail becomes a daily event for those waiting to hear from schools, and checking your voicemail for job news becomes as frequent as checking your e-mail. And after you’ve secured your job or graduate school of choice, you arrive at the next obstacle: distance.

Distance takes on a whole new meaning when faced with the realization that this time next year, you or some of your best friends will be halfway around the world. After four years of integrating yourself into somewhere new and unfamiliar, you’re thrown into a whole new community where you have to re-establish yourself in yet another unfamiliar setting. Despite my readiness to move on, the idea of distance between the people I have grown and changed with isn’t very appealing.

My housemate going to Burkina Faso in May can only see as far as September in concrete terms. She has no idea what lies beyond the fall of next year, and she feels okay not having a plan. I admire her ability to appreciate the present rather than fixate on the future. Some fourth-years have enough faith in their abilities and in the future to be satisfied with just living out the moment, and savoring the last few months of an experience we won’t ever be able to relive.

Those of us who don’t, like me, will just continue to neurotically monitor our various mailboxes until our answers arrive.

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