By Madelyn Alexander, Editor in chief
“It’s all up from here.” At least, that’s what we’re told at stages like this in life. However, as I near graduation, I hear the phrase “it’s all up from here,” and it doesn’t exactly resonate with me.
If someone were to tell me “It’s all sideways and sometimes backwards and sometimes up from here,” I’d feel a little more seen.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of ups. I feel fairly accomplished, prepared for a so-called real job and definitely ready to move on from school. But to say it’s all been of an upward trajectory is a generous stretch.
And by “generous stretch” I mean horribly inaccurate.
I had a vision for myself at this point in my college journey, and for a while, that vision was reality. I had my grades where I wanted them, I had a career-oriented job and I was looking towards life after UM.
I learned the hard way that looking forward too much leaves a lot of the present overlooked. I got the worst case of burnout I have ever had. I found myself grieving the college life I hadn’t even lost yet. I was missing out on what was right in front of me.
If you want to really understand the complexity of the situation, listen to the latest episode of “Falcons on Air.”
My point in saying all of this is to explain why I chose to go backwards. I left my job, on good terms, after a year of 30-hour work weeks. I went back to my server job that I swore I’d never even think about again, and I’m only working enough hours to keep my rent paid until graduation.
For my last few weeks at UM, I am focusing on the things that are really important to me: my friends, The Alabamian and all the experiences I can only get here, as a student. I want to feel like I have gotten everything I can out of being here before I try to rush into the next chapter.
It’s safe to say that things have not been up in a traditional sense lately. But I am happier than I have been in a while, and I strongly believe taking this step backwards will be crucial to my success in the future.
In my experience, it is rare to hear someone talk about uprooting their future on purpose. America puts so much pressure on climbing the corporate ladder that doing anything else is stigmatized as lazy. The fear associated with being unsuccessful in this country can be overwhelming. So why not practice that feeling now while I’m young and have reasonably few consequences to pay?
I know how this sounds: irresponsible, careless, selfish to list just a few of my own intrusive thoughts on the matter. The risk of intentionally going backwards is not going above my head, and I acknowledge my privilege to be able to take a step back from the pursuit of success.
My hope in shedding light on this part of my life is to invite the conversation of what life after college actually looks like. It is not always up, it is not simple and it doesn’t have to work out immediately. I hope anyone reading this is able to let go of some of that pressure and pursue what they enjoy, rather than what they believe is necessary.
Madelyn Alexander is the Editor in chief for The Alabamian. She is a senior art major with a minor in multimedia journalism. Her hobbies include ceramics, reading and collecting plants.