Living in the Free Fall: Post Grad

It is 2002. I am in Mrs. Beckwith’s 2nd grade class and I have just been handed a sharp slip of paper. It reads: “Library Late Fee Notice: You’re missing a book! See Mrs. Autenbaugh in the library to return The Boxcar Children: The Mystery at the Old Barn.”

*audible gasp* *hand slaps my forehead* “I will literally never get into COLLEGE!” I scream.

I quivered walking up to the library, knowing for certain I would have never taken out this particular Boxcar Children book. ‘The Old Barn mystery? Sounds like a downer really, that’s just not my aesthetic’ My 8 year old self probably thought. I walked up to old Autenbaugh, and whispered (this was a library after all), “It wasn’t me, swear on my life, I would never disregard your Librarian authority like that”-a single tear rolling down my cheek. She took my hand and pulled me over to the dreaded Boxcar section, and said “Could’ve been a mistake, deary” (She was plump and had white hair and probably said things like ‘deary’ and ‘crumpets.’ I’m elaborating.)

Her hand squeezed mine as she pulled out the missing Barn Book from the rows. I dropped to my knees: “I’m saved.” Autenbaugh took one look at me and summed up my entire existence: “You are a worry wart.”

She was right.

She is right.

It is 2016 and I am standing at the edge of a cliff, white waves breaking below me. The sweet salt stinging my cheeks as the wind whips my hair in front of my eyes. They are closed anyway. My hands push out on either side of my body, fingers dipping gracefully as the blood rushes to my heart and now I am falling. I am free falling.

This is what the end of college feels like when you don’t have a job. This is what it feels like every time someone asks: “ well what’s next?”

My name is Audrey Schreiber, which is coincidentally, one of the only things I am certain of right now. I am a college graduate from one of the best communication schools in the country. I’ve held internships and jobs, democratically elected to on-campus leadership positions and completed service hours; I am as well-qualified as an inexperienced college graduate could be for the real world, yet here I am. Sitting on a damp dorm hallway floor, watching over high schoolers at a communications summer program. And don’t get me wrong, I love this job, this very temporary month-long job. It is the hardest I’ve ever worked at a job and coincidentally the most rewarding. How’s that for a life lesson?

But the fact remains that I am largely unemployed, competing against one of the toughest candidate polls in the history of the United States. I have three weeks until I am kicked out of this dorm building and after that, I have no real plans. Just writing that is terrifying. I’ve applied, and applied, and applied again. I’ve networked and networked and networked again. I’ve interviewed and- well you get the picture.

So here I am, again, sitting. Writing this blog post as a metaphorical “whelp!” as I literally throw my hands up in the air.

*literally throws hands up in the air*

Mrs. Autenbaugh was no fool when she called me a worry wart- and to this day it has stuck with me. I am a chronic worrier- so this little bout of uncertainty has been QUITE the forced experience. It’s hard to live with uncertainty in today’s world. For gods sake we have apps like Uber, that tells you exactly who is cabbing you around, when they’re arriving, the make and model of the car, and who they married in 1989. You could probably request their social security number to be honest. As a society we have become reliant on certainty, though maybe the world around us has become a lot scarier and uncertain, our own realities are a lot more confident. Case-In-Point: Tinder and the 24-hour news cycle. We may not know what’s coming around the corner, but by gosh we’ll know something before we’ve turned it.

Today I am alive. I have a healthy, beating heart. I have the most supportive of families. And I am privileged enough to have gone to school, to have graduated, to have the chance to live in the uncertainty, at least for a few months. I am living in the dreaded uncertainty, and I am okay.

Today I bought plane tickets to Australia. I thought about it for exactly two days, told exactly four people I was thinking about it, and hovered my little computer mouse over the “Complete Purchase” button. And I pressed it. In a month I will be going to Australia for a few weeks, by myself, because I wanted to. I am fortunate enough to have saved up the means to go and I have the privileged ability to leave. I will never be this young or this free of responsibility again, so here I am, one month out from a 30 hour plane ride to Australia.

One thing is certain in my future and that is that I am learning to love the free fall. I’ll be on solid ground soon enough.

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