“Hi, I’m ambivalent. Nice to meet you!”*
September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment
ambivalent – (adj.) having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone
I have mixed feelings about this thing they call growing up. Depending on a number of different factors such as cloud cover, amount of rainfall, wind speed, and current temperature, how I feel about it all changes- sometimes once every few days, at other times once every few hours.
There are days when I’m absolutely ready to conquer the real world, get out there, and experience how the other half out there (out of school*) lives. I get excited about the idea that after the 5th of November after the last sentence has been dotted, cover sheets and plagiarism declarations signed, and all the final essays are handed in, I am absolutely free to do whatever I want. I could get a job, start a career, stay in school to do a PhD, be a bum and live off my parents’ kindness for a little while longer, hold off on growing old for as long as I possibly can.
I walk the cobbled stones of the University of Melbourne these days wondering where I’ll be in a few months’ time. Will I stay and tread these uneven steps again? Or will I be somewhere else in the world, trying something new, something different?
The thought of the real world – working for a living, being a real live adult, paying taxes, having a boss, having colleagues, donning office wear, having a work desk- is somewhat stimulating, despite not being entirely comprehensible. (Paying for my own shit– what is this concept you speak of?) The thought of going out there to look for a job (a career?) again is fairly daunting, given the challenging, ego-shattering experience I’ve had of it the past months. But then my imagination skips to when I’m finally in, learning and growing in that new….life – all the doors that open, all the new experiences I’m bound to have. Such excitement from just the idea.
When I was a kid, I remember my auntie shucking off her heels and her blazer, at the end of a day at the office, to hurl herself facedown on her bed where my brother and I would be. She smelled like air-conditioning and faint traces of perfume. Being little children, we would pester her with inane questions, our hot little faces pressing up against hers. She would be exhausted yet utterly content at the same time. I suppose there’s nothing quite like the happy exhaustion at the end of a long and productive day. Now I’m her age and this time it’s my turn to do the ritual of coming home. And I want to.
But sometimes I don’t.
Sometimes when I’m working on my thesis in the post-grad lab, typing and thinking, side by side with other honours and masters students, united in a common goal of getting those 10,000 words count for something meaningful, I think of how badly I want to stay. How I’m not ready to be a real person – to learn that one must work to survive, to work in order to pay for the clothes on my back and the food in my belly, to pay for my own insurance, my own gas, my own bills. How I could potentially be happy here where everyone is too young and too intelligent for their own good. How we live in our little academic bubble where we research things that interest us, that may or may not have little (to no) impact in the real world, where all anyone ever thinks about is interest and the intellectual challenge and nobody thinks about money and how it is to live like a student, on $26,000 a year. I feel a pang of…nostalgia (Is it nostalgia if it isn’t even over yet?) thinking about how this will all soon be over. I feel a quite happiness at finding contentment in the work. I feel immense gratitude that I listened when they told me to seize the opportunity, that not everyone gets offered a place, that it’s only a year, anyway. And what a year it has been. Okay, not quite. Not just yet. I still have a few weeks left, after all.
In this moment, I am, simultaneously, thankful for where I am right now and terribly, hugely, intensely and incredibly excited for where I’ll be tomorrow. Wherever that may be.
*I thought about calling this post ‘Why I might as well change my middle name to ambivalent’ but I couldn’t get it to fit in the box.
** Yes, no matter how old I get or how strange it sounds, I will ALWAYS call a place where people go to learn a school.