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  • Alexandra Hillenbrand

The Question/ College to Couch

Standing in a group, I start nervously sweating as the conversation rears its ugly head toward my least favorite question, and apparently, everyone else's fucking favorite. Next to me, someone is describing the next move in their post-grad path, the real job they have lined with an actual salary. I'm next. If I were to fling myself in the pool and pretend to drown I figure that could somehow be less tortuously humiliating than fending the topic of my future.

As predicated in my hellish nightmares, everyone turns towards me. I can feel the bead of sweat forming on my upper lip as the words crawl out of someone's throat,

"When do you start work?"

"I don't".

It's supposed to be a joke. Somehow, it doesn't land. "Well, I'm like in the process of applying to things". *Forced laughter*. Oh no, the word vomit from my never-ending spew of over-explanation begins. "Well, I mean... I started a blog. I mean I've been at it for 3 days. I mostly just talk about the weird things that happen to me, and a lot happens to me. You know, I'm just so quirky (I think I stuck my tongue and did a peace sign at this point, please kill me)". I begin to collect myself. "It's just you know, been creative and I love writing so yeah". I'm out of breath by the time I'm finished.

"That's cool". It's a mild reception, but I'll take it if it means I can finally get myself to shut the fuck up.

It's everyone else's fault for making that such a socially acceptable question. It should be as taboo to ask a recent college graduate what their plans for their future as it is to ask a woman if she's pregnant or a person why their talking to themselves in a grocery store (that last one definitely didn't happen to me, and I definitely wasn't debating whether I should buy mixed greens or arugula. Can you be quiet, you're distracting me from the voices in my head!).

I remember my friends and I talking about this as our last semester together drew near. My roommate, Riley, who's a grade below me (we're an age gap friendship, please don't question us), told us we should start telling everyone we had outrageous plans. Like, yeah actually I'm elected to become the first female president at age 22. Sorry glass ceiling, you've met your match.

If I had a really impressive plan, you can bet that my attitude on this question would be so different. Like, yeah no big deal Harvard gave me a scholarship to their medical school. Somebody hand this bitch a scalpel, I'm ready to scrub in. The fact that my older sister is in medical school and this being the only analogy coming to mind is probably a cry for help.

I mean, obviously, there are a lot of people in this predicament. It's not exactly unheard of to not know what you're doing with yourself in your early twenties. That's about as comforting as a wet blanket. Some of us have this little thing called "anxious energy" and hate not knowing whether we'll ever move out of our parent's home, or if we'll be watching baseball games with them every Sunday for the rest of our lives. I can't really complain though, they do feed me. Hey guys, remember we're running low on Cold Brew, so get on that grocery shopping please. I would, but for some really weird reason I don't think I'm allowed back there. Something about "scaring the general public".

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