What’s Next?

Sunday. Growing up, Sunday was, for me, dedicated to family-time and shopping out of the City. Sunday was the day I got to spend time with my dad because he worked too much during the week. At the age of 21, Sunday has now become another work day, mainly related to my writing. So here we are.

In my last post, I explained what I had been up to during my short break but I now feel the need to write about what’s next. Get this – I have no idea.

I’m someone who thinks a lot, someone who likes to plan, someone who always manages to figure out what’s next. For the first time in my life, I am so plain-sailing that I couldn’t be bothered to worry about it like I usually would. Let’s put this into context. I repeat this often in my blog: context is everything.

Within these past nine months of my final year at university, I had to deal with large amounts of stress that lead to physical anxiety, something I had never experienced in my life. I had sleeping problems, my heart would be racing often, and I had moments where I couldn’t see clearly (literally). I had to go to counseling for the second time in my life. I couldn’t deal with all that stress and anxiety. My thesis tutor, specialized in psychology, was a blessing too and sometimes our meetings were so therapeutic. And here’s what I learned.

Don’t oppose things. Embrace your situation. This is not the time to panic. This is the time for action.

For the past few months, I have repeated this mantra several times to myself and I must say, I have really managed to deal with my overthinking, stress and anxiety. I’ve learned to be my own counsellor and to get myself out of tough mental situations because there’s no point in freaking out or stressing or thinking too much. It’s just a reaction to a situation and we can learn to control our reactions only if we are open to our minds. To a certain point, I’ve mastered the technique. To have made it here, finally graduating, has taken me so much mental effort and yet I strived and survived. It wasn’t easy because it’s easier to breakdown rather than to keep pushing forward through all the muck.

There’s a point in all of this, I promise. Keep reading.

I dedicated my thesis “to the unconventional people who seek to do things their way and no other way. Never let the system tell you who to be or what to do“. Originally, my tutor thought I got my dedication from a quote online but nope, it’s just what I was feeling. My thesis was anything but conventional. I started off with a shit proposal, had no idea what I was going to research on in October, to suddenly have discovered Text World Theory and insanely decided to take on a tough theory within the field of Cognitive Linguistics. Learning the theory on my own was the hard part, rather than the actual writing of my thesis and the application of the theory. My tutor had told me herself, that the Department of English wanted me to fit into their system and write a damn thesis their way, which I would have to adapt to but she knew I would figure out how to do it my way. And I managed to do so through Text World Theory. I look at my thesis now, all the stress it caused me, and it almost makes me cry. My thesis is epitome of this year, let alone the other stressful situations I encountered.

So far, I’ve led my life a certain way. I went to sixth form and then university. I’ve traveled. I’ve taken every single opportunity I could and I’m proud of my accomplishments. Yet recently, I was at a crossroad: masters or no masters?

Whether we want to admit it or not, our educational system is conventional and it only works for those who don’t know themselves enough since they’d rather live in the lie society tells us rather than grow and flourish in their own identity. Is that even living? I must say, these past three years of university were just a means to get a degree and “enrich” my knowledge. In first year, I knew there was something missing from the course. I knew I wasn’t getting everything out of it. The teachings were mainly skimming information rather than polishing our skills. I’ve written about these issues in previous posts. Anyways, my point is that the system screws us over and I participated in it, yes, but now that it’s over, I couldn’t be bothered with it anymore. I don’t need the limitations of a system anymore. Although we live in political systems, social systems, and economic systems, we can make our own system of life for ourselves as individuals.

Originally, I did want to do a masters degree in creative writing. I wanted it so badly but it didn’t work out. At first, it was hard to deal with. I was disappointed. Now, months later, maybe I’m better off without it. Why do I need to go to a university to learn something within the confinements of a system? Especially something like writing, so creative and open to the mind, shouldn’t be taught in a system. So here I am, a soon-to-be-graduate with no idea what is to come next. A year ago, I would probably be freaking out. Today, I’m taking life day by day. I don’t need a masters. At least, not right now. I do have a sort of plan. I do want to work for the next year, heal from this past year, write and write as much as I can, refine my mental muscles and figure out what’s to come next.

The only thing I know that’s for sure is this: whatever I do in life, I know I will end up in New York City. Being away from the City is not easy for me, especially these past two years. I’ve written about these experiences in past blog posts as well. I’ve been called stubborn before, a word which I don’t think suits me, simply because being stubborn means that you’re not open to advice or suggestions. A word I’d use for myself is determined. I am determined to go back home. How can I heal from these past thirteen years, again especially these past two, if I don’t go back home first? I know I’m still growing and learning, and that there’s plenty of things I want to see in the world, but first, I need to go back home. Home is not a word I use in a nonchalant way like most people. I hate saying “I’m going home” on a regular day when I’m heading to my parents’ house because I know it’s a lie. Home for most people is either a physical house or family, but for me, it’s the physical attributes of a place that reflect the lifestyle and culture of that place. I could go on and on about how Gozo’s physical attributes contrast to New York’s but that’s borderline negative and I’d rather not get into that.

All I know is that I have the freedom to make my own choices. We are raised like guinea pigs in the educational system, all being fed the same information, trapped inside classrooms, the teachers are the lab scientists. Whatever they do or say impacts us. Sometimes, they don’t realize their power. And now, after it’s all done and dusted, I have choices. So, at the crossroad, I took the way forward, towards a void. The thing with void is that its meant to be filled up and I’ll find a way to do so. New York will always be on my agenda but I know after I accomplish that, I’ll find out what’s next in store for me. Maybe live in Michigan again or head to Texas. Maybe travel or focus on my writing career. There’s plenty of time to figure that out. No pressure.

I can only imagine so many people my age, now graduating, must be asking “what’s next” and freaking out. But this isn’t the time to panic! Take action – take a grip of this damn thing called Life and get behind the wheel, ready or not. Because Life isn’t going to wait around for you to figure out what you want – Life moves forward with or without you.

And all of this is coming from someone who was (still kinda is but I’ve improved majorly) an overthinker. Stressing about things out of our control is pointless. There’s beauty in the world, wherever you go, only if you’ve got the eye for it. Same goes for whatever situation you’re in right now. Make the most of it. You don’t need to have an answer to “what’s next”. And that’s ok.

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