An uneasiness is settling in as I wander deeper into limbo. Over the next four months, I am a graduated student but not yet integrated into my next institution of affiliation. This is the first time in a long time that direction and purpose has unraveled. Over the last four years, one could content himself with focusing on activities that would improve his employability. And after finding a job (which occurred about two years ago), one could content himself with enjoying the university experience with the security of employment going forward.
So as difficult and growth-inspiring university is, there was no question as to whether you were going in the right direction – since that direction was so readily defined and the entire program had signed up for it. I am unsettled, peering not far into the looking glass, and finding an uncertain world that diverges into so many paths that any sense of direction and order would be misguided.
As I sit on a plane to China, on the start of a 35-day Asia trip, I realize that this is the first time I’ve been completely stress-free. See, the saving grace of limbo is that you are not beholden to anything, except perhaps financial resources. So for the first time in a while, as I type these words, I notice writing this essay has no opportunity cost. With my duties to school and clubs severed, there is nothing else I should be doing or thinking about. In many ways, it is liberating. This kind of life must be the appeal to bohemians, drop-outs, hungry artists, and so on. Yet there is little comfort to be drawn at this time. For opportunity cost is never zero, which raises the question “What should I be doing?” Indeed, these words form the question I will struggle with for the rest of my life.
The only comfort I can take is by looking back to the previous four years and reflecting on my accomplishments. Perhaps I can use that to excuse myself of four months of dilly-dallying. I recently made a two-page résumé to recount my existence. It's sobering to see your accomplishments reduced to two pages of paper, though of course such a document does not account for the personal growth and personal accomplishments university brings. I compare myself to my high school self, who dealt with similar issues but in completely different ways and with less composure. I feel fortified, knowing that I can withstand all this world will throw at me. For all the issues with the business program, I feel more sure of myself and my place in society. I came to Queen’s unloved and distraught by the social web I could not see myself fitting into. I sought validation from others. I still do but not nearly as much. This is rudimental organizational behavior theory. Before my competence was noted, I had to keep eccentricity to a minimum. More recently, I could increase my eccentricity. So the major difference between now and then is I am not as concerned about showing my competence – perhaps because I now believe it is readily apparent.
Looking forward, my plane two hours from landing in Beijing, I see those carefree, sun-drenched days of summer. For humans that subscribe to evolutionary biology, care-free is never care-free. So in addition to enjoying myself and gorging epicuriously, I intend to expand my catalogue of the world to Asia and the Middle East. As someone mentioned recently, travel makes for the best conversation.
I have done a lot in the last four years and sometimes thinking about keeping pace going forward is scary. But the only reasonable response to uncertainty is to continue on the journey of life without overthinking things too much.