On the other hand, I haven't not been a student since I was six years old. For 23 years I have been a part of some form of educational institution. It is part of my identity. Because of this, the question then becomes very real and very valid. What am I going to do now?
In some ways, it is difficult to know how this change will affect the way I view myself. Right now, I'm on summer vacation, which would've happened whether or not I graduated. It probably won't be until the fall that I begin to feel the emptiness (joy) of not registering for and attending classes.
But part of the reason that I was so bent on attending grad school and finishing my degree even though I moved several times during and transferred through different schools is because I am driven on bettering myself.
What am I going to do now? I will find different ways to better myself. I recently took up yoga, which has been a fantastic relaxation exercise. I also purchased a road bike and am working towards increasing my mileage each time.
Recently I finished a book entitled "The Year of Reading Dangerously" by Andy Miller. (It's fantastic by the way, I would highly recommend it.) The premise of the book is that the author decided it was high time to pull down all of those books from the shelf that he had been intending to read for years and just finally DO IT! By sheer will, he managed to read 51 books in a year, including such mammoths as War and Peace and Middlemarch. It really was an incredible feat.
This got me thinking, I have a whole shelf of books that I have all kinds of intentions of reading. But as long as I just let them sit there, they become pretty dust collectors. So I decided to take a cue from Miller and come up with my own "List of Betterment." My goal this summer, then, is to read:
1) "The Wind in the Willows" by Kenneth Graham
2) "Silence" by Shusako Endo
3) "The Autobiography of Malcolm X"
4) "The Handmaiden's Tale" by Margaret Atwood
5) "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac
6) "Dr. Zhivago" by Boris Pasternak
7) "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking
8) "Trainspotting" by Irvine Welsh
9) "Slow Food" by Carlo Petrini
10) "Les Miserables" by Victor Hugo
I admit it's a pretty ambitious list, and I realize that I'm incredibly good at creating lists that I never complete. But I'm feeling pretty motivated this time around.
So far, I have completed #1 and #2. It was quite the transition from a lighthearted book about friendship and loyalty between animals to a historical fiction novel about martyrdom of Christian missionaries in Japan and wrestling with the silence of God. But both were excellent. I am currently 2/3 of the way through #3, which has been eye opening.
So there you are, that's my summer vacation, and "what I hope to do" following grad school. It's another leg the journey of my life; I certainly have not "arrived" nor do I plan to anytime soon. But I find that all experiences, good or bad, shape me into who I am becoming and allow me to see the world in new lights. May you find what you will "do" too!