I honestly don’t know if I’m going to publish this. And I’m a little annoyed at myself for feeling this way, because I started this blog as a way to make myself more honest of a writer. Part of that was allowing people to see my writing on a larger platform, and part was having the courage to post things that might be a little harder than a short fiction piece about the levels of hell. But maybe I’m a little hard on myself.
I’m in my final year of university, and as with most coming of age stories (which is what I’d like to consider the first 21 years of my life), the proximity to the end of what I refer to as my days of youth has come with a lot of introspection. I’ll preface by saying that I’m doing decently in school. Could I have done better, perhaps, had I avoided a few classes, or spent a few more hours on certain papers, such as the one I am currently not writing as I type this? Of course. Hindsight is 20/20, and when it comes to University, it’s easy to get lost in the “what ifs.” Especially when everyone around you seems to have a crystal clear idea of what they want to do with their lives and every question directed to you in the same vein begins with a sheepish smile and an “umm…” It’s not easy to admit to yourself, at a point that you should know, that you’re still not sure exactly what it is you want to do with your life.
Well, no, that’s not it. Even now, with this, I’m not honest, but I’ll probably get to that a little bit later. Back to my earlier point, I’ve worked out that a first class degree is pretty firmly out of my reach (sorry mum, and I do mean that). Like I said, I’m doing decently in school, and the next best thing isn’t so bad, no matter how firmly University online forums try to convince me that my failure to graduate with a 3.8 GPA will ensure that I will end up destitute in the next two years.
But that’s the problem, isn’t it? “The next best thing isn’t too bad.” And I’m not talking about my GPA. I’m pretty sure my parents would still love me even if I graduated with a 2.0 (…maybe). The problem is that I’ve known myself for 21 years, longer than anyone else. And like any long-term relationship, I’ve gotten very good at telling when I’m lying.
God willing, I’ll graduate with a double major in Political Science and History, and if anyone asks, I am proud of that, and I don’t regret it one bit. Because I love history, and I enjoy politics because they are essentially both the study of people, and I’ve always been interested in learning about how people live and have lived, etc. Four years is a long enough time to perfect an answer that gives the impression that you know exactly what you’re doing even when you don’t. Another valuable thing university taught me, I think.
So, Bucky, what’s your point? You regret your degree? Wish you had done something else? Well, no, not exactly. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve studied. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and the world, and I feel a lot smarter than I did when I entered university. So then what’s the problem? The problem is that I’m an excellent liar. By telling half truths and not-so lies, I’m afraid that I’ve become a bit of a hypocrite.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be blessed with parents who have been inclined to push me and my brother to the best of our abilities, but to never make us feel smothered, or “less than” in any way. I’ve always been told that university is more than the grades. It’s about coming out after four years and being able to look at yourself and see the difference in who you have become. I’ve always thought I’d taken that advice to heart and chosen something I love, and even better, something that makes me employable: And there’s the problem. In a few months, I’ll come out with a pretty good degree (not excellent, but what can you do) from a fine university. And that will be enough to ensure that I get a job in something I can do. But, and this is probably the hardest part (I genuinely paused at this bit while writing it), not something I want to do.
And I feel very relieved and horribly guilty admitting this to myself. For four years, I’ve surrounded myself people who are incredibly impassioned about the subjects they study and would love nothing more than to spend the rest of their lives doing it. After four years of trying to convince myself that I am the same and that I want the same thing, I’ve come to the point where I’m finally honest enough to say that it isn’t. And I feel guilty because this all sounds very dramatic and like I realized I’d wasted my life with something I don’t want to do, which is not 100% accurate. I love what I study. But I’m also self-aware enough to realize it’s the next best thing.
I can’t quite figure out a way to say this without sounding like a brat, but certain things have always come easily to me, like writing. It’s never something at which I’ve had to think about or try too hard. For quite some time, I’ve been struggling to figure out how to incorporate my love for creative writing into something that’ll earn me a respectable amount of money every year. There’s been an admittance to myself that nothing would make me happier than being able to write what I want, as much as I want and be paid for it for the rest of my life. However, this is stifled by the knowledge that I am an “entitled millennial, ” and that very few people end up doing what they want and end up having to compromise. And this has been the hardest thing to come to terms with because I’ve always seen myself as being somebody who goes for what they want, no matter what. But as much as I smirk at reluctant doctors and lawyers and engineers slogging through life just to be able to rest on the laurels of three letters in front of their name on a shiny door plate, am I not the same? Neither having the courage to do what we want? So yes, I’ve graduated and managed to stay above the water, and it’s all very respectable and admirable, and nobody could laugh at the sacrifices that have been made to get me here, but now what?
For the longest time, I told myself I was just practical. It just made sense to do a degree in Political Science and History, one that was broad enough not to make me feel suffocated by the path I had chosen. But that wasn’t practicality; it was fear. Fear of failure, this dark and crippling feeling that I was starting to feel for perhaps the first time in my life. I simply didn’t have the courage to do something I loved and wanted because, what if after all the effort and all the encouragement, what if I failed?
So I gave myself a little out, started writing a blog as if to say “See? You’re fine! You’re still writing; I’m sure there’s some way you can do the two without having to risk anything.” Yes, yes and no. Same, same but different.
So what now? After having come to this realization, what now? The problem with posts like these that aren’t planned and are a bit more personal are that they don’t have endings, good ones or bad ones. There is no dramatic change, just life, as it always has been. I don’t know how to end this, and I worry that posting it will make me seem worse off and far more melodramatic than I am. But I started this blog as a way to better understand myself, and if I can’t put down my emotions and thoughts and worries as confidently as I hide behind fiction, then perhaps “I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.”