From as early on as I can remember September has meant new beginnings, new pencils and erasers, new sneakers, new settings. January first had nothing on that first week of September. The new year meant failed resolutions, but the new school year brought about imminent change. I would accept that I had reached my peak tan for the year, and there would be no more opportunities to even out the harsh lines from my lifejacket. Like an obedient little amphibian, I would leave behind the summer life on the lake feeling recharged and ready to take on my landlocked tasks of homework and studying without protest. What else was there to do when the school year was as certain as the sun rising? Coming from a very privileged background with both of my parents having completed education beyond post-secondary, I started my educational career at three years old well aware that come September for the next 18 years give or take, I would be back in a classroom.
It’s safe to say that over the years I’ve become attached. More recently, worn down and exhausted, but also attached. Now academia feels a bit like a toxic ex-boyfriend who hits me up from time to time to see if I’m feeling insecure enough to tap back yet. And it’s hard not to! I mean no one really tells you what you can expect from life after school. How you’ll feel when September is just the month after August. This perpetual latchkey arrangement is unstructured and confusing and uncharted. While have had ample time to rehearse and perfect the role of student, I still don’t understand this assignment.
One thing I’ve noticed is that, because my life plan essentially drops off at this point, every decision I make, I get this ominous but also kind of inspiring feeling that it could be life changing. Not to say decisions don’t constantly change your life, but while you’re in school, they just feel like choices made along the way as you go down your path. After school, the path doesn’t really exist so it’s like every choice you could make is a new road to draw on an exponentially complicated map. I’ve noticed this feeling especially in moving to the city, starting a new job as a florist that I would have never expected for myself and that does not relate back to my degree in the slightest, meeting so many new people at once and not knowing who will end up being a series regular verses a guest appearance.
The other day I had a moment while I was out to brunch with some friends from work where I like mentally exited my body and was reflecting upon the situation as it was happening and realized that the only part of this moment that was connected to my past as a student… was me. Every person I was out with I had met in the last month or two, at a job that I spontaneously took out of necessity, after moving to a city I had never thought about living in until I was confronted with graduation. And in that moment, feeling slightly tipsy as I nursed my third mimosa, I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself. Amidst the chaos of this massive life transition, I was establishing a new social network, laying down a support system and beginning to build something from my collection of quick decisions.
And even though this September was the first BTS season I’ve skipped, it did bring with it that drive and motivation I needed to continue to progress. I put in my notice at my restaurant job with plans to start full time as a junior florist at the shop across the street. I committed myself to making art with personal meaning, setting the goal of putting on an exhibition to take place next year and I have already created three pieces that I can’t wait to share. I finally organized my commission schedule to get back on track making money from my art and I even made a weekly schedule to pencil in time for making art for myself, making art for others and making art for no one. The summer is over and I’m ready to grow and learn and explore outside of the classroom.