There’s something about being back in my college town – even if it’s only 40 minutes from where I currently live – that wipes away the three years that separate me from graduation. It feels impossible that it has been nearly 38 months since I sat inside Pine Yard, soaked through on my graduation night, surrounded by my and Bobby’s family as we passed around the bowl of white rice and reflected on the end of our time at Northwestern.
But time has passed, and a lot of things have changed since then. I am no longer the aspiring journalist-turned-PR-professional with dreams of rising up the ranks at an agency. I left that world to start two businesses and embrace a freelance writing career that brings with it a whole host of new (and exciting) responsibilities. Being a professional is a lot different than being an undergrad. No matter how many times I thought to myself that it would all be so much easier when I no longer had homework, midterms and final exams, in many ways the real challenges are just beginning.
The letter grades, GPAs and majors disappeared, but they were replaced by annual reviews, promotions and career shifts. There is also the financial responsibility and long-term planning that come with being fully independent. My definition of “future” was once limited to academic years and summer internships. Now, that “future” is extended to include buying a house, providing for a family and saving for retirement. None of these things are happening tomorrow, but preparing for them today is what will ensure that we are ready when the time does come.
It’s a lot to think about! Still, my glass is half full. Actually, it’s filled to the brim.
As overwhelming and daunting as the real world can sometimes be, there is a lot to be excited about. Making big decisions for myself is empowering. Planning for our future goals and watching them become a reality is thrilling. And having the ability to meet one of my best friends for dinner on a random Wednesday night to reminisce about the past, analyze the present and dream about the future is a treat – especially when good food is involved.
Lauren and I talked about our excitement over Sam and Alex’s engagement and our upcoming day trip to Lake Geneva, among other things. All between spoonfuls of egg drop soup.
My dinner choice was easy: the Spicy Three Delicacies has been a longtime favorite of mine. Beef, chicken, shrimp and vegetables – what’s not to love? I wrapped up half as a surprise for Bobby later that evening. I think I earned points on that one.
Once we were finished with our meals, we cracked open our
fortune statement cookies.
Wise words, but I miss the days where these cookies predicted my success or doom. At least they still provide lottery numbers at the bottom. If you happen to use those and win, you’re welcome.
It was a cool summer night (hurray!), so we walked around the block a couple times before heading our separate ways. As I drove back into the city on Lake Shore Drive, I thought about how cool it has been to live downtown and experience the hustle and bustle of Chicago…how different it is than college life in Evanston…and how I’m glad that even though life can take us in many different directions, there are some things – such as good friends and good memories – that never change.
Speaking of time flying by, what are your end of summer plans?
I can’t help talking about it – blame it on the Packers preseason game last night. As 1/3 of August is officially over, I’m most looking forward to the fact that I am seeing all three of my nieces over the next month. I’d love to hear what your plans are between now and Labor Day.