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Graduation: The dark abyss that lies ahead

By Daniela Avila, Jan. 26, 2021

Sitting here in my hometown, in the room where I grew up and dreamt that I could really make something of myself leads me to ask the most daunting question a soon-to-be graduate could ask themselves: What will I do come graduation to get there?   

For some it’s not that difficult of a question; it’s grad school or working for their parent’s company or even returning to the place where they interned previously. Instead, I sit here, with these great expectations for myself and not the slightest clue in which direction I should head. That terrifies me. I guess it’s because I always viewed my career as something in the distant future, and suddenly, I realize this is the future. It’s time to get my act together and really do the damn thing. 

You see, all of this time I’ve been so sure. I even subconsciously criticized those who were unable to figure out what they wanted to do — who they wanted to be. I knew. I was going to be a journalist, a writer. I was going to help people and I was going to write articles that inspired people. I was going to write about people and places that inspired me. I was going to travel. I was going to invest in myself and continue to be the hard-working person I knew that I was. Heck, I was going to write a book! 

However, a lot like everything else in life, it’s easier said than done. So, another question begins to float in my head: What if it’s not that simple? Now that my life isn’t a clear-cut path, and I mindlessly apply to a multitude of jobs in hopes of having options, fully knowing there’s one job I really want, there’s always the possibility I may not get it. All I can do is wait — and I’ve never been one to have much patience.  

So here I am, staring into the dark abyss called my post-grad life. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic and with that, the world is sort of on pause. Except, for us soon-to-be graduates, it’s not. We don’t have time to sit around and wait for things to get better because come May, we have to figure it out. 

All I can really think about is all of those nights I didn’t sleep, all of those days I sacrificed seeing my family and going to my friends’ birthday dinners for the sake of my work — it has to pay off.  

The women in my family who worked so hard to climb the ladder, only to boost me up and provide me with the opportunities and resources they didn’t have — I have to do it for them.  

I was raised primarily by my mother. She is the dictionary definition of a superwoman and I honestly don’t know how she does it. She’s raised three children basically on her own, is an engineer, and is probably the most hardworking and creative person I’ve ever encountered. She can do it all, and she constantly reassured me that I could too, even more so because I now have more than she ever did. 

Her mother was an orphan who only went to school in Mexico through the fourth grade and ended up marrying at 19. She then went on to raise five kids in a tiny house with only two bedrooms, while my grandfather worked all day. She instilled in my mother that she needed to go to school and make sure that she could take care of herself because she didn’t want her to ever have to rely on someone else, and she wanted her to have more. So, she did.  

Now it’s my turn. Except instead of simply making sure I can take care of myself, I’ve grown up with the notion that the sky’s the limit and no, there’s no glass ceiling standing in my way. Maybe that’s naïve, and maybe I shouldn’t burden myself with so many expectations. But without expectations and without dreams, I could be left with the words “what” and “if.” The two words I fear most.  

So here I am, the girl who always knew what to do next and exactly how she was going to do it, speaking for all of the people who may be experiencing the same unnerving feeling that I am right now, only to say you are not alone. I don’t have it figured out now, but I hope I will soon.  

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