Sunday, May 27, 2012

Forever is a Long, Long Time When You've Lost Your Way

Sorry for the total lack of follow-up posts from my last one. Last week ended up being beyond wild, and I didn't even get a chance to ride Ringo, let alone update the blog. In the meantime, I managed to open my senior art show and was really happy with how it turned out looking... even if it did require several of the most stressful days I've had in a long time to get ready for it!

(My show!!)

(Lots and lots of purdy pitchers)

(My opening panel with Artist's Statement, Bio, and roadtrip map)

(My work station trying to desperately get ready for the show)

In the meantime, I'm deep in the throes of my last few weeks as a college student, and am not at all happy about it. I feel very nebulous about the future, which, as a mega-Type-A personality, I find really difficult. This is the first major junction of my life where I've not felt at all clear on what to do next: I had never realized the extent to which I depended on the stable structure of the middle school - high school - undergrad structure and how much it allowed me to go through life without much thought or personal reflection. At the end of high school, the hardest decision I had to make was what college to go to (and man, what a hard decision that felt like!).

Now, my whole life lies ahead. There aren't 10 or so finite institutions to potentially sign my name to for the next foreseeable packet of time, but instead an infinite number of paths with timelines ranging from a few months to a lifetime ahead. Add that in with a bad economy that makes all those decisions feel 50 times more arduous, and it's a recipe for a stressopalooza. I hate not feeling in control, and this is a time where I really do just have to sit up, put my hands down, and ride it out.

This assessment doesn't even cover the social and academic aspects of Stanford that I've treasured so much. I feel like I've just started to come into my own, but I'm truly afraid to head out into the world alone from here. I feel completely inadequate to describe the way I've been feeling, but I think this essay not only does a better job but also points the way towards a future that I'm going to try my hardest to embrace (warning: unbelievably poignant):

Oh well. That's enough worrying for now. Long story short: high stress = not much time for really focused riding. I've been riding when I can, enjoying the splendor of the Red Barn for last few weeks I can, but besides that competitive goals are mostly tabled for the moment. I am T-minus 3 weeks until graduation as of today. Time to make the most of these last 21 days while I can (21 being, after all, my lucky number - surely an omen, right??).

(Meanwhile, my best friend at Stanford, Clare, got to ride my favorite school horse, Stanley - a match made in heaven!!!)


PonyNut said...

It is a scary scary feeling! I graduated last June and had a hard time. A year later and I am still trying to figure things out....but several friends are in the same boat. My advice....find something that you are happy doing, even if you are broke, living at home and eating ramen. It's the nicest thing to wake up in the morning and look forward to going to work or to riding your horse. School was all fun and good, but in the real world, there is no homework :-) Hang in there! Good luck and congratulations!

Mikaela Coston said...

Hey Kate! I'll give you the opposite story as someone who also just graduated - but has not only a job - but the job of a lifetime (minus the fact I have to move to OK). And I realize I am the exception as the majority of my friends are not in the same boat as me - for many reasons. But I can tell you after both my undergrad and grad years (6 long LONG years) I HATED college, in fact I don't think hate is a strong enough word. I was miserable, and if you ask any of the other 10 kids who graduated with me they would all say the same thing. None of us have any idea what a "fun" college experience is like. So you can put that into perspective - at least you enjoyed college.

Now back parents always gave me the advice that sometime you have to do what you like in order to do what you love. Because lets face it - doing what I love would consist of eating and riding Zammy, which unfortunately doesn't pay the bills. I always knew I wanted to do something in the horse world but I wanted to do something that allowed me to afford my own horses and compete and all that fun stuff rather then cleaning out stalls the rest of life. So I got creative. I found equine architecture - even though nobody else believed me it was a real thing. I got beat down in college about it. I had the director of the school everyday my first year ask me if I had sold my horse and if I would drop out. (yes it was that bad.) But you know what I stuck through it and now am working at one of the largest international equine architecture firms in the world. And here is another sad part that will put everybody's life in perspective -working 8-6 makes me jump for joy! I will have so much free time to ride - I may not know what to do with myself - and riding is something I love. I like architecture - don't get me wrong and I suspect if I wasn't so lucky with the equine side of it I would stick out a regular architecture intern job, knowing that my time will come and that it would be highly unlikely id get the dream job right out of school.

So my advice is, be creative! If we all listened to what our college and HS advisors told us we would all be teachers or doctors or laywers when in fact there are thousands of jobs out there not so black and white. If you want to do something with horses- you can make it happen, but you'll have to get creative and realize that it may not always be the thing you love to do but it may get you to do the things you do LOVE to do. My other advice is stand up for yourself- make sure you get the appropriate credit you deserve and don't sell yourself short.

I can tell you at the end of the work day the most satisfying part of it is going out to see Zammy and know that I pay for him. When I go to shows its my hard work and my job that allows us to be here. Some work days are bad, some are good but the real joy I have is knowing that I can support and do the thing I love to do.

Stick with it girl - you'll look back in a few years and be like damn I have come far! :)

Katherine Erickson said...

Thanks so much guys, for both of your perspectives and words of encouragement. I cerebrally know that the next few years are probably going to be even more exciting than college was... but I'm having a touch of separation anxiety at the moment! haha.

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