Where am I going?

by Meg Tohill

No, this isn’t a response to the Dave Matthews Band song “Where Are You Going.” I’m talking about my imminent future that still remains ambiguous. Come May 18, my identity as a college journalism student ends and a new one is on the horizon. The only issue is, I don’t know who that new person is. Talking to peers has only gotten significantly more frustrating since we all returned from winter break; but for me it hasn’t been the idea of leaving New Paltz that is giving me pause.

For almost three years I have created a life in this quirky little village. I’ve danced on tabletops at P&G’s, I’ve cried on the Rail Trail when nothing seemed to be going right, and I’ve tried time and time again to give China House a chance, ultimately to be disappointed and end up at Great Wall. I know every step, every nook and cranny, every rock and every view, but I guarantee you I’m ready to move on to the next part of my life.

Despite this readiness to move on, there’s a lack of clarity that gives me a headache. I don’t know if I would like to attend grad school or pursue the first step in my career. When I go to websites like Indeed or LinkedIn, my eyes pass over entry-level positions and key into internships.

I’m terrified to put myself in the ring so I’m much more comfortable applying to unpaid labor than I am to jobs. I’m not sure when we gain the confidence to start applying for positions. At what age do we say, “I am qualified”?

I’m taking this summer to find some of that confidence we need to land on the right path, whether it’s grad school or a position at a company.

To begin looking at whether we qualify or not, it’s important to pay attention to what we can offer other people, because despite what we might believe, we are fully equipped.

This summer I plan on getting back all of the years that I spent worrying about being an adult. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be looking at jobs and positions, but I also understand that this is the first time since coming to New Paltz that everything isn’t lined up for me. I’m not expected to be at any which place with impending assignments.

For the first time ever, I’m on my own and that’s something that you don’t learn how to do when in school.

I’ve learned how to do trigonometry and worry about politics. I’ve learned that the majority of history needs copious revision. I’ve learned that people aren’t forever, but the impact they create can seem like a lifetime. I don’t know how to do nothing. Obviously, I will not be completely dormant after college. There are learning opportunities that I intend to step into on my own because it will be the first time I’m taking the steering wheel of my life.

I’m not sure how to finding a job after college or how to start saving for a house. I have no idea where my friends will be in a year, let alone in the future, but I can put my best foot forward and reach toward happiness and hope for the joy of others. I think that’s what SUNY New Paltz has taught me: reach toward what you want, because ultimately you will end up somewhere good. Hope for the joy of others because you will always be in good company.

In August 2016, I moved into Bliss Hall as a very timid and naïve young adult. When I walk across the stage in May and move my tassel, I’ll still be a naïve young adult, but at least this time around I’m confident that life will work itself out. Here’s to three years of dancing on tables, eating one too many breakfast specials and chasing sunsets on the ridge.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Clarity” The Teller May 2019 Issue 6

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