The paralyzing future, aka welcome to the pre-graduation panic.

Welcome to the life of an almost-college-graduate. No, I’m not donning my cap this May, but come December, I’ll be getting my special piece of paper with the rest of them.

This stage of life often looks like a normal college student’s life: studying, going to classes, experiencing brain numbness and emptiness on Fridays where you just have nothing left, spending a little too much time online when you should getting things done.

But then there are the days when I go on Google binges: cities with lowest cost of living, job listings, average income for a new graduate with a humanities degree, how much is rent in Minneapolis. And those are the normal ones; they happen about twice a month.

During the off-weeks, I am often struck with the thought, whatever happened to living abroad? Don’t I want to apply for a scholarship to teach in Lichtenstein? Why didn’t I want to do that? How much is a plane ticket to the Philippines? Can I live abroad for a year and still be an American citizen? Oh, duh, missionaries.

I start furiously searching websites of NGOs and scholarship competitions and volunteer programs and intern abroad programs that I know I’ll never end up applying to because this isn’t where I need to be, but the possibility exists and is nagging at me that I must consider it. Bloodshot eyes. Forget to blink. Forget all reason and logic about your own life. Consider EVERYTHING. Leave no stone unturned.

The stress of graduating is not so much in the limitations of a degree or paycheck but in the enormous freedom that you’ll have to rebuild your life when you’re not in school anymore. School, for most college students, has been the main user of your free time since the age of 5. What you will do when homework does not exist is a daunting decision.

I’m trying to limit these panics to once a month so that I can still focus on my life in the here and now and keep on going strong towards the finish line. Right now, the future is paralyzing, so it must wait.

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