The thing that I love most about Oregon (aside from our craft beers, eccentric facial hair, and borderline-oppressive foliage) is that we get to experience all four seasons. The ability to witness the shift of each season is a beautiful thing, but fall always seems to be a time of the year that’s laced with bittersweet melancholy.
Aside from the turning of the leaves, the vanishing sun, and the unrelenting torrent of rain, fall has always been a season of loss. It’s synonymous with the beginning of a new school year, and that’s a feeling that I’ve always dreaded. It’s not that I disliked school, but I’ve come to realize that the first week of classes represents something more than just “the start of a new school year,” it’s realizing how little you did with your summer, and how much you still wanted to do. It’s a sea change that is so closely tied to the season that I can’t help but feel a lingering sense of sadness through the month.
I’ve realized that my nostalgic tendencies are (in many cases) simply coping mechanisms to combat the inherent feelings of sadness that some seasons bring. I’ve also realized that for about a decade every fall has represented “the last year” of something in my mind. In middle school it was ‘holy shit, high school. This is the loss of all childhood innocence.’ Halfway through high school it was ‘holy shit, I’m taking classes and I need to get a job?’ Throughout college it was a constant stream of ‘holy shit, this term is gonna be even harder than the last?’ Last fall it was ‘holy shit, I need to finish school, work my job, and work an internship?’
I now realize that each fall before this I was concerned solely (and selfishly) with a loss of free time. Summer is nothing but free time, it’s the ultimate fuck-around season. Fall is the antithesis of summer, it’s a complete sea change in everything from the weather to my daily routine. Nostalgia is just finding things about the season you like and holding onto them for dear life. There’s something comforting about breaking out your jeans from last year, or listening to an album that you only listen to during this time of the year.
But up until very recently, my free time was what I valued above nearly everything else. Fall takes all that away because what used to be endless hours of summer fuck-around time is now dedicated to school. This past year I wrapped up my final term of college and an advertising internship, and all of my greatest fears were realized. The past 8 months I’ve had the least free time that I’ve ever had in my life, but something unexpected happened: I didn’t mind. I absolutely loved that internship and rarely ever longed to go back to the carefree “fuck around” summers of past. I was willingly trading in my free time for work because I finally found something that I loved doing.
Now I sit here as I’ve finished my final year of college and that internship feeling the same creeping dread as previous years, but for an entirely different reason. Now I just hope I find a job that I enjoy as much as that internship. I want to find something that I enjoy that much and would unwaveringly trade in my free time for.
I recognize I’ve experienced this insane level of restlessness and uncertainty before and it’s turned out okay every other time. In fact, I’ve come out of each one of those experiences a better person… but this one feels different. This one feels final.
I think what it comes down to is that if I enjoy what I’m doing, then that panic dissipates almost immediately. I just don’t know if I’ll enjoy it until I experience it, and up until that point, it’s just an unknown that my paranoid mind fills with only the worst possible outcome. I’m afraid of the unknown. I’m terrified of change, and fall is a season that always brings change. I just don’t know if it’s for better or worse until it actually happens.
At the time of writing, I’m terrified that I won’t find a job, or that my job will feel like work. And don’t get me wrong, I love work, and I’ll willingly ring myself dry if it’s going towards something that I find satisfying. But I’ve also experienced jobs that are immensely unsatisfying. I just want to write. If I can write I’ll be happy. And if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life (just look at pornstars, they never have any lasting psychological issues). I don’t know. I’m on the edge of an abyss and I’m about to be in control for the first time in my life. I’m just as scared as I am excited. I don’t want to make the wrong first move. I don’t want to fuck it up right out of the gates.
Every other change has been for the best, so I can only hope that this one will be too. I can feel the existential dread creeping in, but I’m too far along to turn back now. The biggest difference is, this time, I need to seek it out. This isn’t an impending school year that I’ll have to participate in regardless of whether I’m ready or not, this is something I need to undertake on my own. Change won’t come to me. A job won’t fall in my lap. This is one change that I need to charge into headfirst. I can’t wait for life.