I was in Nashville for a reunion with some of my best friends from college for the 4th of July weekend. In the three years since we’ve graduated, we’ve all gone and gotten jobs or done Americorps or the Peace Corps or something along those lines, and now we’re trying to figure out what the heck to do with our lives and also what we’ve already done.
Sometimes I feel terrified that I’m doing everything wrong. Graduating from college was like being forced through the birth canal and leaving a tender home for a world of concrete and screaming and people slapping you to make sure you’re alive.
I miss classes and learning for the sake of learning. I miss my friends and being within a 2 mile walk of 80% of the people I care about. I miss grades and how easy it was to measure success. Sure it was all hell sometimes, but mostly it was awesome.
Not college has been different than college. In the “real world,” learning is not valued just for the sake of learning. My friends are spread out and busy. Community is difficult to build and what the heck is going on with dating nowadays? In some ways I want to write Boston University an angry letter saying “WTF? Why didn’t you prepare me for this?”
On the other hand, my real world education has been incredibly valuable. I’ve learned the value of a dollar (which is almost nothing), and how difficult but important it is to continue to invest in relationships as part of building a life worth living. I’m probably doing most things incorrectly, but so is everyone else and that’s a reassuring thought.
One of the best parts of not college has been the relationships I’ve maintained and the joy of seeing old friends. As I live more life, friendships grow richer as we experience tragedies and great joys together, and as life becomes less about us and how we stack up against arbitrary standards, and more about the kind of legacy we’re building with the people we love.
Because in the end that’s the most valuable thing we have. College couldn’t teach me about the other hard lessons in life, but I did get to build some incredible friendships. My dream is to continue growing that spiderweb of love for the next one hundred years.
I don’t know if I’m making the right career decisions, and I don’t know if my life will look like what I want it to look like in 20 years. I do know that friends are awesome, so I’m going to start there with the rest of my life and ask questions later.