In more ways than one, being in school is unlike anything you will ever do in life. But one thing I’ve come to appreciate is the orderliness of it. All year long, classes are scheduled to begin and are scheduled to end. You come in, you grind, then it’s on to the next. You can continue the relationships you want to keep and you can leave the rest. You can keep the book or you can sell it back.
You don’t need an exit strategy. You don’t have to figure out how you’re going to get out of the class. There’s an exact date when the class ends, and everybody knows it. There’s an exact date when classes begin, and everyone knows that too.
Life isn’t this nice and neat. Real-life endings can be messy. You can’t talk to me every day or every week on a schedule, and then stop suddenlty. We want explanations. We grapple over two-week notices. We stress over breakups. Then there are those things that need to end but you don’t know how to shut them down, so you drag them along until the wheels fall off. Or we tolerate people and situations because they are only mildly annoying, never admitting if those people or situations were no longer around, we wouldn’t miss them at all.
And real-life beginnings…we have the hardest time figuring out one thing – when. When are we going to start saving money? When do we become more than friends? When are we heading back to the gym? When are we going to start looking for another job? When are you going to make that phone call? When are we going to get it together?
In school, you don’t have to think about where you’re headed next. The path is laid out and if you keep taking steps, you’ll eventually reach the end of it. That’s what so difficult for a lot of new grads. All your life, all you had to do was follow the steps. You get out here in the real-world and it’s like being in a mile-long intersection with no traffic signals.
There are few surprises in school. Who woulda thunk I – Miss Free Spirit – would come to love that? It makes sense when you put school in the same category as working out. People become addicted to running and going to the gym because it’s one of the few things in life that operates by a simple formula: Keep doing it; see results. And with all the uncertainties of life, it’s nice to have something to dig your heels into that’s solid, consistent.
The free spirit is still inside, but I have to admit, in the last couple of years, I’ve come to truly appreciate structure where structure belongs.