Embracing the liminal space of post-grad life: Appreciating what’s passed and preparing for whatever’s next
Freshman year, a professor introduced me to the idea of liminality—the sense of being between things. Such an idea felt pervasive, and for good reason. I was between home and school, high school and college, being a teenager and being an adult. At the end of college, it’s inevitable that liminality shows up again. When as a freshman I found it moderately horrifying—the nostalgic and nervous-about-the-unknown elements of my personality taking over—I look at the next liminal period of my life with hope. The endless possibility suggested by the liminal becomes encouraging rather than depressing. We won’t stop hearing about how bright our futures are and I want to suggest that those words of wisdom aren’t as full of shit as we’d like to think.
It’s with this in mind that I’ve come up with three ideals for our futures that I don’t think apply just to me. We cannot predict what’s on its way, but I hope these ideals get at a certain sense of taking control as best we can of what’s to come.
First of these is that we all stay in touch with the people and communities we care about. Most certainly this includes our classmates from the class of 2012, but it also reaches to those others who’ve been important to us in our four years. We can’t keep up with everyone—nor do we want to—but we’ve also built some of the strongest relationships of our lives here, and we’d be remiss if we let them fall apart once we leave.
Second is that we not become as dependent on caffeine as we were in college. My regimen of a few black coffees or Iced Turtles a day (shout out to the good people of Whispers for perfecting the Turtle mix) is neither good for my heart nor for my sleep schedule. It might be a good thing to get into some real world habits.
Most important is that we all contribute to our future communities as much as we’ve contributed to ours at Wash. U. We’ve got future doctors, lawyers, musicians, analysts, et cetera in our midst and we are the people who will help make Wash. U’s name the one its PR folks keep trying to craft. If we appreciate the creativity and intellect that we’ve developed over the last four years, we can direct it into some amazing future successes—it’s through our actions and our triumphs that we will make our own names and bring about some incredible, positive changes to our world.
One final note: Our time here is not condensable into .gif files. No matter how “true” an image might ring, there’s something much more true in our own experiences, in the stories we tell. We’ll laugh at the picture, but we’ll also forget it in half-a-second. The memories we made here will last us much longer than that. While the essences of these memories are important, so are the memories themselves. Don’t always boil them down. No contestant from “Toddlers and Tiaras” is ever going to represent your memory as well as you can.
Stepping down from my soapbox, I wish everyone the best of luck in the future. Ours is a class full of talented people in so many different fields; I’m excited to see where you all go, and even more excited to pull out my “I knew him/her when…” speeches, if and when I need them. We’re at one end of a tremendous liminal space, seniors. Get excited for whatever’s on the other side.