Quarantine Contemplation: There’s more.

Since I was a kid, I knew that I was expected by my family and those around me to pursue the path of higher education. Apart from entertaining the occasional daydream or mental movie reel of living the life of an up-and-coming YouTube talent discovery, I’d never really considered doing anything that veered away from the straight path to college and beyond.

As is the case for many others, I had spent some 16 years busting my butt in school, and during those 16 years, my academic performance shaped much of my identity, and in turn, I had shaped a shocking amount of my identity around excelling in my studies. Yet, despite being in the school scene for nearly ¾ of my life, it wasn’t until that fateful day on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, that I realized a suffocating truth: I had no idea of who I was outside of being a student. Correction: I *still* have no idea who I am outside of being a student.

I realized that I feel overwhelmed by the state of being a student and feel pitifully underwhelmed by simply being me.

Last week on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, thousands of NYU undergraduate and graduate-level degrees and certificates were officially conferred by the University President Andrew Hamilton and the dozen or so deans and faculty of all the students’ respective schools. Last Wednesday, I graduated…virtually. On any other year, you would find the thousands of graduates sit around the field of Yankee Stadium, and honestly, as I stared into my laptop screen with my black cap on, gold tassel dangling in the corner of my eye, and cat napping on the couch next to me, that’s all I could envision.

Yankee Stadium or my mom’s living room: that is the question.

Yet, despite the virtual nature of the ceremony, I acknowledge that my graduation was a time of joy for my family and friends. My mom flooded everyone’s Facebook feed with cap-and-gown pictures from our private photoshoot in our kitchen, and I responded to all of them with a single post because, let’s be honest, no one has time to respond to every single “Congratulations”. I signed off the post with the oh-so-colorful ending, “Onto the next chapter”, along with a hashtag with the name of my graduate school, #UniversityofGroningen.

Yes, that’s right. Here I am, eternally tearful about not knowing what is meaningful to me outside of my academics and still, I decided to pursue graduate school of my own accord. Don’t get me wrong. I’m very grateful for this opportunity, and I am looking forward to deepening my understanding of my field of study, but what I’m having some real trouble with are the undercurrents of emotion that don’t come across in that Facebook post or my LinkedIn updates or even in my conversations with family and friends—the dread of a quarter-life identity crisis and the fear of losing myself in the books and the grades and the resume and the dollar signs.

It wasn’t until Wednesday, May 19, 2021, that I realized that I don’t know what really matters to me or what makes me feel fulfilled. Like, I have literally spent 10 minutes trying to respond to the simple question of “What kind of music do you like?”. I’ve had a half-hour-long internal debate about whether I prefer thin-cut or thick-cut onion rings. It would take me months to figure out my graduation outfit (thank GOODNESS, I could opt for pajamas instead of a dress this year).

Here’s to hoping my own Path to Self-Discovery is as sublime as this piece by SH Visuals.

As minuscule and as ridiculous as these questions might seem, upon over a year and a half of quarantine contemplation and introspection, I’ve come to realize that the reason why I have such a hard time with answering these queries and making decisions is that they are inherently based on your identity and personality. And I’ve come to realize that I’m not nearly as in tune with myself as I thought that I was.

Last week, before I graduated, a supervisor of mine proposed a challenge for me. After waiting patiently for my super obscure answer to her clear-cut “What kind of music do you like?” question, she encouraged me to take this summer to think about my “deeper whys”. 

Why do I want to go to grad school?

Why do I like my area of study?

Why do I do anything that I do?

At this moment in time, it would take me weeks or an all-nighter to answer these interview questions interrogations. But I am hoping to take these few months before the next chapter to really figure some myself out. I know that there is more to me than being a student, employee, volunteer, and member of all of the organizations that I’m a part of. There’s more. I know it.

Now, it’s time to figure out what that is.

I’ve never been much of a spa or salon kind of person, but over the last year and a half, I realized just how good it feels to indulge in some extra self-care every now and then. So, go out there and treat yourself at Unimited~

by Christianne Evasco

Christianne is a recent graduate of New York Univerity, with a major in Psychology and minors in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) and Creative Writing. Starting September 2021, she will be continuing her education at the University of Groningen in Groningen, Netherlands. Christianne’s endeavors are fueled by her passion to use her voice to help others harness the power of their own voices through therapeutically-creative means and to connect people through language and cultural exchange. In her free time, you can find her catnapping with her cats.

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