Now What?

I’m up early again and I have a few thoughts.
I’m right up against graduation now. About a month and a half away. Three more classes to finish in that time. I’m shopping around for decent online graduate programs.

I should be congratulating myself. I put in a lot of hard work and long hours to get where I am, and I should be proud.

To a degree, I am. I never thought I would get here. I would just be enrolled in undergrad indefinitely. It’s taken this long. Why wouldn’t it always be there?

Somehow, I’ve put together enough hours for someone to decide that I need to get out of there. One hundred and seventy-seven credit hours amassed since 2001 to be precise.

I’ve wasted a lot of time on failure. Thinking about it. Obsessing over it. Feeling like I wasn’t good enough for success. It created a bunch of false starts and premature stops. I failed some classes and bounced around schools. When I went back full time in 2011, I decided that I wasn’t dropping the ball anymore. I wouldn’t stop working until I had a bachelor’s degree of some kind in my possession. I didn’t really care what kind or who it came from. I just needed it to be finished.

Fast forward to now. I’m really on the edge of achieving a major life goal. At a time when I should be elated and proud, I’m facing another big unknown.

Now what?

That’s the question that plagues so many of us. You’ve pushed so long and so hard for something and the Fates decided to be kind and bless you. Now what?

What will you do with your energy now? What about all that resolve? What will you devote yourself to?

I’ve found myself at a crossroad and I’m feeling lost. I honestly have no idea of what to do with myself now.

I’ve asked for advice. People tell me to pursue something I love. They ask where I see myself in five or ten years. It’s hard because I never allow myself to dream. I don’t let myself look forward to very much. I can’t handle disappointment very well. I’d basically given up on wanting more for myself. That’s part of why I am so unprepared for the future. I never really faced it. I’ve been so focused of getting through every single day that I couldn’t even imagine what could be.

In five years, I’ll be forty years old. In the land that people call middle aged. My son will be done with high school and I’ll have an empty nest. That’s when people are supposed to start really enjoying life, right? After their kids are grown.

I could have a master’s degree by then. In something. That sounds cool.
I could find a career I could really throw myself into. Try to make a difference in the world.
I could say to Hell with this, buy a RV, and drive around North America.
All very realistic options.

In the meantime, I’m trying to let myself be hopeful about my life. About where I’ve been and where I’m going. I’ve begun to stick my head out from under my cloud to see what I’ve been missing all these years. I must trust that I’m making the right decisions and that I’ve learned from my bad ones. I’m looking ahead for the first time in years, just to find a void. A void full of potential options and outcomes stands before me and it’s terrifying.

Now what, indeed?