The Final Countdown

47 days.

If all goes according to plan, that is all that stands between me and the privilege of traipsing across a stage in a polyester garbage bag with a square of cardboard that inexplicably signifies academic achievement attached to my head.

This is very much the end of an era. I’m just a few months shy of having spent a full two decades in school. I can’t remember a time of my life without it. And in 47 days, I’ll be turning in my No. 2 pencils and scantrons for possibly the final time.

I’m told that after graduation, one ought to seek ‘gainful employment,’ which one apparently obtains through such obscurities as ‘networking’ and ‘self-starting’. No one seems to actually know what these terms mean. But if you happen to accidentally do them, things will likely go well for you, at which point you become a ’employee’ whose mind is preoccupied with things like ‘401ks’ and ‘not using Facebook during work hours.’ This whole world is very mysterious to me.

In certain ways, the prospect is thrilling. . .getting home at the end of a day and being done with work is a concept I struggle to wrap my mind around. Reading for fun again, having time to cook and work out and color in my Disney Princess coloring books because why the heck not, when I have so much free time every day?!. . .yes, Life After Education appears to be rife with opportunities, ones that I hope I will actually to take advantage of after the requisite post-graduation sleep-while-watching-mindless-movies-and-eating-ice-cream marathon.

The black cloud behind all this silver lining, though, is that there are more (in both number and magnitude) frightening obstacles between me and this life than I have ever faced before.

On April 21st, I’ll take the National Counselor Examination, a necessity if I’m going to get my license to work as a professional counseling intern. On May 12th, I’ll graduate, if I’m able to shore up enough of my depleted mental and emotional resources to stagger across the finish line. And then I will promptly not be able to work as a counselor until sometime between June to October, depending on when my LPCI license comes through–there’s really no telling. Then I may or may not get a job, which I may or may not have to supplement with another job, which I may or may not choose to fit in and around another internship. There are a ton of little stressors and big unknowns attached to each of these, along with some relational/existential angst stressors that also need to be dealt with in the coming months.

As I consider all this, I vacillate between manic excitement, stubborn optimism, and the throes of depression.

I’m going to get a job! And be a productive member of society!!! And have FREE TIME!!!!!!

I’ll get a job. And even if it’s everything I never wanted, even if I’m scrubbing toilets with a toothbrush held between my teeth, I. Will. Like. It.

I will never, ever be gainfully employed, and in a few years, neighbors will find my carcass on the sofa in front of the flickering television, where I will have asphyxiated on despair and Cheetos.

Straight up, y’all, I’m pretty freaked out about the next several weeks and months. I’m not exaggerating when I say that graduate school has left me mentally/physically/emotionally energy-less, and while the unknown future has a certain thrill to it, it’s a thrill laced with fear.

If you wouldn’t mind, friends, I would love to have your prayers about all this. Even if you just stopped at this moment and prayed for 25 seconds, I would so, so appreciate it. Prayers that I would be willing to trust in God’s goodness and provision (my spiritual Achilles’ heel) are paramount; prayers that I would graduate/pass the NCE/find a job/find a job that I enjoy/find a stable sense of community/gain direction re: my life and so on and so forth would also be appreciated.

Thanks y’all. For reading, for encouraging, for caring. I’m grateful for each of you.

2 thoughts on “The Final Countdown

  1. Oh, Lauren, welcome to life!! I’ve been praying for you and your family for years and will continue to do so. Look back, and see God’s provision and love in your life so far. Grab onto that, and REMEMBER what great things the Lord has worked!! Be faithful, and He will provide what is best for you to become like HIM. Really, does anything else really matter? You are great! Love, Mrs. Owens

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