Monday, March 1, 2010

From 17 to Senior in 3 Easy Steps

Quite a few people have asked me recently - and by recently, I mean since I finalized my choice to graduate in November - what prompted my choice to graduate early. College, after all, is a traditionally four year process, and nobody was more vocal about not wanting to cut short their college experience than I was, particularly with regards to getting an acting education.

I knew from second semester of freshman year that I was ahead on credits. I was a sophomore by that semester, credit-standing wise, and when I lost my NYU card on a plane in April, they put 2010 automatically on the new one issued to me, something I never rectified being that I was told they'd just re-issue me one IN 2010 prior to my graduation.

Through less-than-fruitful encounters with my former advisor, who continued to laud my so-called "overachieving" without actually being able to offer any real guidance about my academic progress, I continued to take 18 credits a semester, planned a psych double major, then minor, then dropped it altogether in favor of a Spanish minor, and then a double minor. And then, somehow, I discovered I did not, as I had initially thought, have enough credits to graduate a semester early but rather that at the end of the 09-10 academic year, I would have enough credits to graduate from the university a full year early. And that I had, essentially, done this without even trying.

I deliberated. And hedged my bets. And agonized. For five months, I passed two week rotations convinced that I would graduate early and begin my life, or that I would stay on for one more semester and do all the random things I never got around to. Variations on this life plan also included summer class in New York and abroad. All of these were hugely appealing; making pro-con lists was so far beyond pointless because though the two biggest were huge contenders (save $50,000 v. my paralyzing fear of real life), the other, nit-picky details, were the ones I got stuck on and the ones that caused these fluctuations.

Then in late September, I was kicked out of my apartment. Suddenly all thoughts of graduation went by the wayside; simply getting through the day without having a panic attack was a much more pressing imperative for the next month as we dealt with the legal and financial ramifications of breaking our lease, moving to the hood, and having to deal with all of this in the midst of midterms. I was so burned out and tired and pissed off about everything that graduation, suddenly, with all it's uncertainty and obligation, seemed like a fantastic option. But yet somehow, I was still saying that I "might" be graduating. I don't like commitment, you see, and given the option, I generally choose to avoid it until the last possible moment.

One day it hit me: graduating early wasn't a cop-out. It wasn't a failing. It meant that I worked damn hard through four years of elite college prep school, and even harder in two and a half years of elite university acting school. Was I ready? Maybe, maybe not. But clearly my academic standing meant I'd done SOMETHING right. And once all the stress clouds cleared, logic kicked in: staying around meant another semester part time, paying tuition while paying loans, whereas I could still be in acting class, voice lessons, and dance class for way, way less. And working full time, and still, you know, reading and learning about the world on my own time.

And suddenly, just like that, it made sense. Almost as if I actually planned it. There are 72 days left until graduation; about 36 of those are class days. I'm terrified. Particularly after this weekend's prom-themed Clefto concert, I still have trouble reconciling the only precisely three years that will have passed between my graduation from Harker and my graduation from NYU. Time has flown by WAY, way too fast. I'm learning to reconcile the fact that for the rest of my life, I may never be able to concretely say what my "plan" is. There is more doubt in my life now than there ever has been and believe me that is NOT something that one wakes up and has an easy time dealing with everyday.

And yet... something about that excites me more than anything else EVER. To be a poor starving artist, living from audition to audition, having the possibility to know I may end up in San Francisco or London or Toronto or Chicago or a cruise ship or Broadway or all of the above... that's pretty fucking cool (if, you know, scary and weird). But I've always kind of been a nomad, and I've certainly always known I was going to end up in something creative. So that's really what it boils down to.

There are 72 days until graduation, which means 73 days until the rest of my life. Let's see what happens.

No comments:

Post a Comment