Saturday, August 30, 2008

Was Every Other Grown-Up Faking It, Too?

I'm on my own, I'm sure I'll feel it now
I'm on my own, I'm sure I'll know it now

A few weeks ago, I moved into my apartment in Blacksburg. Now that I'm here, it's a very different feeling--different from any other time that I ever moved, even when I moved to Richmond in 2005. I've put a lot of my stuff into storage and all the things I never brought to college--my bed, my dresser, etc.--got put in the Blazer and hauled out here. (Yes, I own an SUV now...shut up. I hear you back there.)

Here I am, a grad student. In two years' time I'll have my Master's degree (assuming all goes well) and I'll be a real adult. But I could have sworn we all thought we were real adults when we graduated from college. Hell, I could have sworn we thought we were adults when we turned twenty-one. Obviously that was a facile conclusion on the face of it, but let's face it--we've been making adult decisions for a while now. They haven't always made up the greater proportion of our lives, but it's impossible to get through college successfully without at least imitating an adult. So why this weird sense of deja vu mingled with the unknown?

A large part of my mind is reverting to the anxiety-attack stage so common to my youth, with the thought "What am I doing here? I have no clue what I'm doing here" repeating like the motif of a bad techno song. And yet, there are times when this seems more real than what I was doing in college. Granted, I'm not being paid yet, so it's not like I have anything approaching a real job...but sometimes the struggle is what makes it more palpable.

I've been telling friends of mine that grad school is like college without the fun. That's an exaggeration, but in a large sense grad school is like a more serious version of college, with a more intense and less individualistic focus and a tendency to remind the dramatic-minded of "Welcome To The Machine."

But even so, grad school isn't real life. Parts of it might be representative of The World Out There, but as a whole grad school is almost as insulated from it almost as well as college is. There is somewhat of a crack in that insulation, however. As Leonard Cohen pointed it, that's how the light gets in.

(I'm still flying.)