Sunday, February 9, 2014

You've Got Your Degree! Now What?


There is a panic that sets in, shallow as it may start out, the moment that one graduates from College. Sure, the celebrations are festive, the meals are delicious, and the words of encouragement overflow without end in sight, but there is something beneath all of that, at least in my experience, that can only be labeled as Panic. Not the acute form, the one that robs you of logic in a flash, but the chronic kind, that stews beneath all that you do, say, or think. It is ever present, and it can rob your life if you let it.

When I first graduated from NYU Tisch with a degree in theater this past May, that’s exactly what happened. I allowed this panic to rob me of my life and to convince me that I wasn’t a theater artist, that I wasn’t deserving of my degree, and that I would work in retail for the rest of my life. This may all sound hyperbolic, but it was real, and it was how I felt.

My path to battling this Panic, to loving my craft and my calling to it, has been fraught with insecurity and fear. In the 9 months (already?!) since I graduated, I have been presented head on with a challenge that is seemingly innocuous yet terrifying in its inevitability: life outside the boundaries of formal education.

If we’re going to throw out a disclaimer, let it be that most of the time I’m not so great at this. I forget things (including, for a while, the deadline of this post), sleep through my alarm, and miss doctor’s appointments. For a time, it was InsecureRyan’s prime chance to pounce on SecureRyan’s, well, security. I would be unnecessarily harsh on myself and no good would come from that. But wisdom, or at the very least, patience, comes only with time. I may not be very wise or patient as of now, and I may forget this whole “brushing your teeth” thing every once in a while, but I’m trying. I go to auditions, I write when I can, and I cook up a storm. Life is hard postgraduation, there is no denying that. But it’s not insurmountable, and it’s not fate throwing you an evil side eye. It’s life, and it’s rewarding when you least expect it.

So I won’t give up. I won’t back down. And I’ll love myself through it all.

Let the real education begin.