class of 2019
In the past four and a half years, I’ve been grinding away with nearly 16-credit class loads Monday through Thursday and then serving coffee on the weekends. I’ve filled my resume to the brim, redesigned an online portfolio at least six times and endured an existential life crisis after being told that “I’m too nice for journalism.”
I’ve trained myself to wake up at 7:30 everyday (even when I don’t want to). I’ve had trouble sleeping because my thoughts keep swirling and rattling inside my skull. I’ve had nightmares about ruined art projects, rusty espresso machines and sleeping through alarm clocks.
I’ve worked so hard in fact that it should be no surprise that in December I’ll be earning not one but two degrees with an obscene 154 credits to my name (while the required credit limit for a single degree is somewhere around 122).
So yes, I’m very very tired. And for good reason.
Now looking ahead at my soon-to-be professional life, I feel pressured to appear successful and responsible by applying to jobs and internships, making phone calls, leaving messages, updating my Linked In, networking, getting a job offer and beginning the endless road of the American workforce until I either retire or die–whichever comes first.
I’m already tired, and frankly, thinking about the hustle culture of American professionalism makes me feel even more exhausted.
I’m trapped in a vicious cycle of productivity, and all I want is a good long exhale. All I want is a break from homework, lectures, required readings and frankly, higher education. All I want so desperately is to finally rest.
And all this is to say that I want to return to Nicaragua for a third time this January.
This may sound counterintuitive to my desire for relaxation, but if I’m being honest, I’ve never slept more soundly than on my bunk bed in the Verbo Iglesia orphanage compound after working a long day laying cement bricks under the sweltering 90 degree sun.
I’ve never felt more joyful than seeing the smiles on those kids’ faces, more humbled than meeting inmates at the local prison, more at peace than when hearing the gentle rain tink on top of tin roofs.
I’ve been told for a while now that I have my whole life to work, and while I used to scoff at that criticism of my overly-productive personality, I’m choosing now to take it seriously. If I’m going to “work,” it’s going to be for the betterment of others, and ultimately the betterment of my soul because that’s what’s more important than any design or journalism job, as scary as it is for me to admit.
Honestly, I can’t say with full confidence that I’m necessarily comfortable with this decision. While I know in my heart that this is what I want for my life, it’s hard to not feel insecure in the company of 20-somethings being published in The Washington Post, starting masters programs or having job offers lined up upon exiting left on the graduation stage.
But I’m willing to pursue this tune because when you hear your personal melody, you have to follow it even if no one else listens to the song.
I’m realizing how precious my twenties really are, how this interim between graduation and professionalism may be the last chance to live freely and flexibly. I don’t want to wait until I’ve earned two weeks’ vacation to wish I had gone back one last time. Right now, I want to live for my right now. Work, projects and jobs can wait.
If you’ve gotten this far in my ramblings, here’s the core of it: if you would be at all inclined to give a monetary graduation gift to a recent college grad, I’m asking for donations here instead. In terms of “helping me out” for my future, this would truly be the most appreciated and the most needed.
Because of the country’s growing civil unrest, we have been the only missions team to enter the Puerto Cabezas community in over a year. So while on the surface you may be helping me, underneath you’re helping boost the morale of the Nicaraguan people. By helping me afford this trip, you’re reassuring them that despite the United Nations’ denial and ignorance, we hear them, we see them and we’re with them.
I’m tired, as I’m sure you are, but no one is more tired and discouraged than those I’ll be serving, and it’s my hope that we can find rest together.