Final year of college has begun. It is the beginning of the end; the culmination of hundreds of hours of study, thousands of Ghana Cedis on fees and bucket loads of sweat and toil. Moving around campus on the first week of reopening, I have seen quite a lot of faces that I had last seen in first year. It’s almost as if the universe is trying to let me reflect on how really fast this journey has been – not that I am liable to forget anytime soon.
A friend of mine has been waiting for this moment for a long time. In fact the only event that could trump his happiness at finally starting senior year is the day he finally graduates. He is in haste to get out into the real world. The real world holds work and money – and women too, though he would not admit that is part of his motivation. I don’t begrudge his enthusiasm and an outlook that is far too positive than I’m comfortable with. He is an allied health student and the health industry is still one of the safest bets for getting a job after school – at least compared to other career paths. In a few years he’ll be earning a few thousand Ghana Cedis, have the steady, god-fearing fiancé he wants and be well set-up for the normal life he craves.
Me, I’m terrified. Even ignoring the fact that I couldn’t have picked a worse time in history to be a Petroleum Geoscience Major; that there are more retrenchments than employments in the industry I want to work in; that I still can’t quantify what I have learned up until the present moment; or that even my lecturers – from the very first moment I stepped in the class in first year – have constantly devalued the degree I hope to earn at the end of this school year by urging all of us to look towards pursuing an expensive Master’s degree if we intend to snag any significant jobs in the industry, what scares me the most is leaving the safety of this net I have had over me in the past few years.
My friend – and he is not in the minority of students who think this – feels school is like jail. It’s a four-year prison sentence of the same meal of books, studies and lectures; unyielding jailers who camouflage as lecturers and school authority and a system that is generally unfriendly to the needs of the average participant. Where some of my peers see a jail sentence, I see a carte blanche. I see the freedom to work at a job while still schooling; to explore my talents at writing, to manage a group of people while working on a project, to try – and fail sometimes – at as many things as I can till I find what is just right for me. Now though, I know I won’t have that freedom forever. My fear is that I am approaching my own personal hell: a life of drudgery and monotony, of rules and bosses, the straitjacket of real life and the very narrow margins of failure.
But final year is not going to wait for me to be ready and I imagine I would never be ready to leave the relative comfort zone I currently find myself in even if I were given ten more years to prepare and there’s only so much I can worry about my fears and inadequacies before they consume me. So I’m going to look forward to senior year and its peculiar challenges while still trying – and sometimes failing – at new endeavors.