Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Post Grad Problems

I just returned from the US three days ago. Coming home to Kentucky took a little adjusting. I caught myself checking my dog for fleas, then I remembered that he didn’t have any. Driving down to Nashville for Vanderbilt’s Homecoming weekend I kept waiting for the chicken buses to come roaring by, but all I saw were plain yellow buses filled with children. Little do they know that in 20 years some of those buses will be flying through Guatemala, colorfully painted and stuffed to the brim with 150 Guatemalans and a handful of gringos.

Going to Vanderbilt’s Homecoming was definitely the highlight of my trip. I got to talk with our future Spring Break leaders and pretend I was back in college. I woke up on Sunday with the disturbing thought that I was leaving my beloved school and heading back to Guatemala. To be honest I didn’t want to go. I’d had about all the mudslides and rain I could take. However, as we stepped outside at the airport in Guatemala City the sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We hopped in a shuttle and settled in for the long ride back to Sololá. Driving through the Guatemalan countryside I had a realization. My depression didn’t stem from returning to Guatemala, but from the understanding that I was no longer a Vanderbilt student. The fact is I’m just now coming to terms with graduating. For the past five months I have taken comfort in the slightly delusional idea that I’m just studying abroad, taking a short break from school, but will be coming back soon. Leaving Vanderbilt after only a weekend, it finally clicked with me, I was just a visitor. I don’t belong there anymore and as I settle back into life in Guatemala I’m finally owning up to that fact.

Just to make myself feel even better I like to compare my life with the lives of my friends who are currently employed in the real world. The majority of them are sitting in their cubicles right now grinding away in jobs that they may or may not like. My friends had plenty of things to complain about during our weekend: long hours, terrible bosses, huge living expenses and small paychecks. Always game for a good whining fest, I joined in, lamenting the terrible rains that had been going on. Then one of my friends pointed out that all she had heard me talk about for the past few months was how much I loved my work in Guatemala. If the only thing I have to complain about is the weather, I guess I’m doing pretty well. 

 My post-grad problems stemmed from not accepting my graduation, but I have begun to recognize that most people are dealing with a lot bigger problems than that. So to all you soon-to-be graduates: I don’t want to alarm you but you can’t stay in college forever. Maybe you squeeze in a fifth year if you swing things right, but the 6th one rarely happens. You need to have a plan and if you want to have an amazing experience while easing yourself into the real world and minimizing the post-grad problems apply to become a Program Director for Manna!

I love my life, Emily

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