18 years old means freedom to many. But most importantly it just means we get the hell out of Dodge or in translation- high school graduation. (Which by the way, I don’t care what anyone says, those days are not your best days and you will never just miss them. High school sucks. End of story).
Anyways, leaving high school leaves you with a problem that everyone expects you to be able to answer by the time you toss your hat up into the air at graduation. “What are you going to do with your life?”
It’s quiet funny actually, that the Twilight Saga would give such a perfect example of how most our age feel at this question – “Who the hell knows?” Those were the words that Bella and Edward’s valedictorian ended her speech with and I feel the exact same way.
All through high school I had a plan: go to school in Springfield, IL at Lincoln Land for two years and then transfer to a four year university to finish my degree in agriculture business. Somewhere my senior year that plan changed and I decided to stay home and attend my local community college Lewis and Clark for a degree in business.
But like everyone knows of teenagers- we have a lot of growing up to do- and by the time most of us are a year out of high school, we figure that out for ourselves.
If you have read much of this blog you know of my own background, losing my Jason at such an early age. But I had met him just two days before I started my second semester of college, and my first semester on campus. And in a few months I realized my heart was totally gone and so we had started making plans.
First off, college had to go. I couldn’t just up and quit my job, I needed the money after all you couldn’t get a house and get married and start a family with no money. And of course I figured I needed an education but college was boring me and the thought of spending another few minutes in my classes made me want to shot myself. In all honesty I was burnt out. I had started classes just three days after graduation and had been going without a break ever since. (And I was tired of it taking up time that I couldn’t see Jason).
But I knew I couldn’t just quit college (at the time) so I changed degrees, hoping that by deciding to be a paralegal would be a better choice for me. Community colleges are limited and I wasn’t leaving Jason so I switched programs started doing all my classes online and hoped for the best.
I detested it and during that semester changed from working at Wal-Mart Sporting Goods to being a teller at a local credit union. Better pay, better hours, hated it more. I remember driving to work one day and seeing a boy I had been in FFA with – and who runs his own haying business- on his tractor. It was a beautiful spring day, everyone was in the fields or fishing our being outdoors with the critters and I was dressed in fancy office clothes and going to work.
I wanted to cry. And even more so a few hours later when another local farm boy and former blue and gold wearer came in to make his truck payment. He had been in the tractor and was talking about how much he and his family had gotten planted that day. Once again it had been so long since I had been out of agriculture I felt lost in the conversation yet longed to be back there.
That summer I didn’t enroll to take college classes, I didn’t know what I wanted to do and then followed it up that fall by taking another semester off. I had things to straighten out and by that fall had re-enrolled at Lewis and Clark for this spring semester to be in medical billing and coding.
See I already knew I wanted to write and be in agriculture but there were no programs like that around here. I had flirted with the idea of enrolling at the University of Phoenix (and still am) to take courses in communications and journalism later on. But I needed a job that would bring in some half way decent money.
However before I could finalize my enrollment Jason was killed and there was no way in hell I was going back to school less than two months later. It just wasn’t happening.
Now here I sit. Middle of March- four months after Jason died- trying to put my life back together. Trying to find out where I am going and who I will be now that my former dreams are shot to hell. I still don’t have any answers. I just ‘keep on keepin on,’ sound’s good enough for the moment.
And in ‘keepin’ on’ I have been spending more time out with our friends at the bar, where it feels like he still there and alive and well inside his friends who act just as ridiculous as he did. While standing outside the local bar this weekend I overheard part of one of them drunk conversations that sound completely stupid and yet make a lot of sense. One boy was telling his friend that it was stupid to have to know who you were at eighteen and go to college because you were only going to either change your mind a hundred times or be miserable. After all we are still growing up – clearly- and in growing up we change more than we will ever know.
That’s all true. At 18 how are we supposed to know? We’re fresh from high school and are just now getting our feet wet in the real world. Most of us haven’t worked jobs or anything besides food service to know much about what is really out there. If we are supposed to grow up that means we have a lot of changing to do. Interests change and dreams change and lives change in those few short years following high school. Wouldn’t it be a better idea if we all took a two year mandatory break from school and then it be mandatory to go back to college (for at least a year) because then we would know who we wanted to be and would be more likely not to change our programs so many times?