What do you do when you graduate college? For a while, I though the answer was: sit at home all day, binge-watch Netflix, and wait for something to happen. Since graduation last May, I've begun and abandoned The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, and The Following, dipped into The L Word, Scrubs, and Law and Order: SVU, and knocked out Sherlock. I also, looking back over my Netflix history and had a few particularly dark moments, in which I turned to options like An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars and, on YouTube, William and Catherine, the made-for-TV movie about the British royals' time at college, as well one of the most harrowingly horrible pieces of television I've ever seen. To be honest, McKenna wasn't much better. I have always taken solace in extremely bad, Lifetime-style movies. Their fluffy lessons about morality and plastic plot twists are so inapplicable to my own life, that I normally find them oddly entertaining. Only this time, as 10-year-old McKenna managed to juggle her math test, her English paper, her crush, and the gymnastics meet, while fake Kate Middleton graduated from fake St. Andrews, with fake Wills in tow and a fake job in fashion lined all up, I couldn't help but feel envious. These characters, young, fake, and improbable as they might have been, were doing things. They were making moves. I was on the couch.
Well, I did leave the couch occasionally, when it was time to crack open my LSAT prep books. Studying for the LSAT, a test I never wanted to take for a profession I never wanted to practice, was my way of remaining stagnant while giving the impression of movement. Those who knew me well, and even those who didn't, would squint at me - really? - upon my declaration that I was pursuing law school. We all, I included, knew it was a cop out. The length of time I spent hiding behind this particular cop out was directly related to several factors, the most prominent of which was the fact that I was, and still am, living at home. This curse-in-disguise allowed me to silence the guilt and boredom and impatience bubbling in my gut with the faux-reassuring thought: I don't have to worry about paying rent, which translated into I don't need to worry about finding a paying job, which eventually became I don't need to worry about doing anything. And so, for a while, I didn't. Sure, I slogged through some LSAT study prep. That was about it. I didn't write. I barely read. I used any excuse possible not to leave my house. I didn't allow myself to think about what I really wanted to be doing with my life, because, while I didn't know what the answer was, I knew what it wasn't. And, having chosen, out of panic, to pursue what it wasn't, I was too afraid to stray from that path. Better to have a path, I figured, even if it was one I didn't want, than not to have one at all. Nothing could be worse, I thought, than not knowing. Nothing could be worse than admitting to not knowing.
So what changed? Did I have some major epiphany during which I realized exactly what I was meant to be doing with my life? Did I eschew law school in order to accept a job offer at the company where I was meant to work while making the salary to which my Ivy League education has prepared - no - entitled me? Am I any closer to leaving my indelible mark on the world than I was when I sat on the couch watching Netflix all day? Well, no. Nope. And no. I did do one thing, though. I admitted that I didn't know. And that one seemingly tiny yet actually terrifying admission has given me, surprisingly, a lot of motivation.
I still don't know, exactly, what I want to do. I still sit on the couch, sometimes, and watch Netflix (I've moved on to Twin Peaks). But admitting that I didn't know what I wanted, but that it certainly wasn't law school, allowed me to reaffirm the things that brought me joy; things that I might, in fact, want. I love to write. I love to read. I love food. I love spending time with my girlfriend. None of these on its own might constitute a clear path to success, but, by paying attention to them, I can begin to scrape together the vaguest outlines of the kind of life: job, relationship, etc., that I think I'd like to have.
And maybe I'll be totally wrong. And maybe my desires will change. Maybe what I want today will be different than what I want tomorrow. In fact, I'm certain all of these things will happen. But just being open to these desires, volatile as they might be, has given me not just the ability, but the want, to get off of the couch and try my hand at being a person.
I'm currently working part-time at a really really awesome food-related startup, which allows me to do such things as reading, writing, and photographing food, as well as part-time at a clothing boutique to supplement my income. I'm learning how to carve out time to spend with my girlfriend and with my friends. I'm getting to do things I love; I'm getting to do things I don't love. I'm getting to do things. And that, I'll admit, is even better than a daylong Twin Peaks Marathon (maybe).