About two weeks ago, my mom and I took a trip to Walmart, and were walking down the main aisle of the food section — you know the one, it’s got all those cookies displayed, or pumpkins, or flowers, followed closely by beer cases piled high, sometimes in a dumb football pattern or an ‘AU’ or ‘UA’ for the rival teams of the state — when I spotted a woman with a face I would recognize anywhere.
My mom and I stopped simultaneously, the woman cocked her head and nodded with a small smile out of politeness before stopping as well as my mouth opened and I fumbled for words.
“I know your name is Christina, but I can’t remember your last name!” she exclaimed as I cheerfully exclaimed HER name, before we hugged.
This lady, of course, was my old kindergarten teacher I hadn’t seen since I was at least seven or eight, whenever she left the school (although Mom can confirm/deny this better than I can — I don’t remember much from that age).
Mrs. A taught me when I had a pixie cut and threw up lasagna one day while standing in line at the classroom door after lunch. We sat on a rug made up of colorful letters and numbers, and I remember one of the games we got to play early in the day was to stand on the letter of our first name, and I could never choose between ‘L’ and ‘C’ (I go by my middle name). And she, like a lot of my elementary school teachers, used a yard stick to point at words on a board we read every morning for our reading exercise.
She had not changed a bit, but here I was standing so many feet taller than the last time she’d seen me, with a young woman’s body and glasses and a deeper voice and an actual vocabulary. It was the weirdest thing. She couldn’t believe I was a senior in college, but laughed and was glad to hear that she wasn’t the only one who felt old when I admitted that I did, after telling her that I was twenty. She told me to send her an invitation to graduation and she would be there — I’ll probably cry if she does come.
It wasn’t until later, though, that my age really hit me. My mom said something along the lines of, “Mrs. A taught you your first year in school, and now you’re in your last year of school.” That just about blew my mind. Sure, I’d graduated high school, so I was past my ‘last year’ of public grade school, but grad school isn’t even the same as undergrad college, which is pretty different from grade school but the last system based on levels or ‘standing’ (freshman, sophomore, etc.). So, there it was, staring me in the face.
I’M about to be a SENIOR in COLLEGE. When did this happen?!
I’m a first-generation student. Two of my cousins went to college, but didn’t finish, my mother began taking classes at a community college nearby, but didn’t finish, and the only people in my ‘immediate’ family to go to college were two maternal uncles. So I really had no idea what to expect when I started at the University of Montevallo.
Well, I don’t want to launch into my life story, because that’s not really the point of this post (if there even is one), but I’ve done well in college, and I plan on going to grad school to get a doctorate in history. But what then? I’m a senior in my undergraduate career — shouldn’t I be thinking of this stuff?
Okay, grad school — I’ve got that. Hopefully I’ll get in. But grad school for history doctorate-pursuers takes anywhere from 4-9 years, from different articles I’ve read. I don’t want to just be floating aimlessly for that time frame, do I? I’m only twenty, so I know I don’t need to stress about this stuff, but sometimes it seems overwhelming. When is it okay for me to have a family? Getting married is one thing, but having children just seems like too much stress for me to handle if I’m still pursuing my grad degree, so when am I supposed to pop out tiny me + future significant other spawn to populate the earth? Do I even want to pop out TM+FSO spawn?
It doesn’t really matter now, but sometimes these questions start piling up in my head, and it makes me want to give up on my dreams of getting that sweet, sweet Ph.D. I don’t even know what exactly I want to do with the doctorate, but two of my preferred options include: 1) teaching at a university, or 2) being a librarian. The latter of which is a pretty sweet idea, actually, since I never had a choice in the matter of me being a bookworm or not (hint: I am). But I just don’t know.
But no one ever knows what they’re going to do, right? I mean, they might have plans, but plans are by no means any way of knowing what you’re going to do. I guess I just have to take things day by day before then.
I know I said it before, but still…when did I grow up? This is insane. And I know it will only get insaner (which doesn’t look like it should be a word, but it definitely is).
I’ll leave this post with a quote I found on postsecret’s tumblr the other day:
“It makes me happy to know that none of us get a how-to guide–
We’re all just kind of winging it”