She called me on Wednesday to say she had just taken her final college class ever, and now all that was left were papers and projects, no finals. She sounded exhilarated, but admitted to some ambivalence about leaving her college years behind. "All I had to do for the last four years was go to classes and learn," she said. "I mean how much better does it get than that." Her brother had a completely different view when he made the same call three years ago. He had no ambivalence whatsoever about being done with college, though he knew he would miss the social part. But when the classes and papers and tests were completed, he felt as if a great weight had been lifted.
And then he moved back to the city and went right back into a classroom setting to qualify as an EMT. Learning is easy for him when it's active and relates to emergency medicine because he's dedicated to the idea of being a first responder. He'd be an excellent emergency room doctor, but won't consider medical school because he can't imagine adding so many more years of classrooms to his life. And yet, before the FDNY called recently, he'd actually begun to think about becoming a nurse practitioner. He seems to have put that idea back on the shelf in favor of his original dream—becoming a firefighter/paramedic. "I love school more than he does," his sister reflected. "I love the feeling that my mind is going to explode with what I'm learning. I wonder if that means I should go to grad school? But to do what?"
I am in that place of wanting to know the good and purposeful outcomes so I can watch the movie of my children's lives with a sense of peace. But that's not how it works. I get to have all the suspense as it happens, and I have to just trust that they have the tools and the grit and the humor to meet their challenges, and make it all come out okay. (My daughter's friend since first grade, who is also about to graduate, took that picture of her. She gave me permission to post it.)