Jessalyn Johnson is a senior at Grand Canyon University, completing the final year of her BA in English Literature. Originally from Melbourne, FL, Jessalyn has come to enjoy living in the desert of Arizona. Since freshman year she has occupied several different positions on the editorial board of GCU’s literary review, StartleBloom, which is approaching its third volume. In her free time, Jessalyn enjoys creative writing, photography, writing music and participating in the plays and musicals put on by GCU’s Ethington Theatre.
As cliché as it may be, it feels like just yesterday was my last, first day of high school, curious and excited to figure out what I wanted to do for college. Three years later and I am beginning the last, first day of my undergraduate degree, wondering what shape craziness will take this year and where I’ll inevitably find it. Life can take some wild turns, as it always has and will continue to do so. As the years pass, there never seems to be enough time to reflect on our past and absorb our experiences. Before we know it, it has already passed and we realize that the world did not wait for us to catch up with it. Still, there is much to do, and our only choice is to hit the ground running at full speed.
This is what it’s felt like, thinking about how I got here, less than a year from a bachelor’s degree, trying to feel ready to take on whatever the next chapter of my life entails. I’ve come to believe that it’s impossible to be alone in this, the feeling that you don’t know what to do, either now or soon; the way we exist, the way society moves so consistently, it’s all too common. The anxiety that comes with thoughts like these is overwhelming, trying to keep up while also trying to plan ahead.
Starting classes was a familiar feeling, though the reality behind the fact that I am doing so for the last time here at GCU is frightening. I walked in to my early morning class ready to soak in my new routine, watching my schedule fall into place.
This is, without a doubt, lining up to be my busiest semester yet. It’s both terrifying and thrilling, the beginning of the end of a life I’ve grown so comfortable with. Just as I’ve settled in and cozied up to undergraduate living, it’s almost time to get back up and start to head down a new path once more.
I’ve been doing my best to preserve each moment I have, being present and aware. It’s not as easy as I hoped it would be – sometimes staying at peace with your mind and body is difficult in the face of the chaos senior year brings. Remembering that you don’t have to take everything with you is a complicated task, especially when it’s all you’re used to. I have four classes in a single day – which unforgivingly isn’t all I have – almost back to back. In this case especially, allowing myself a certain amount of space in my mind to leave some things behind isn’t as simple as I wish it was. This is going to be something important that I need to learn and latch on to as the school year progresses.
If there’s one thing that will keep me sane through the ins and outs of my wildly involved, exhaustingly lengthy days and nights, it’s the idea of catching my breath, accepting each day, one minute at a time, controlling what I can currently control and letting go of what I cannot.
Right now, I’m heavily considering all of my options for what I’ll do after I graduate. While there’s no way for me to know exactly where I’ll end up quite yet, it’s certainly something I am starting to prepare for. I’ve been thinking about graduate school, getting a master’s in creative writing with a concentration in fiction. As I’ve been looking in to different programs, I have become more and more excited to dive in to the bare bones of the craft I have loved and pursued for as long as I can remember. However, applying for a chance at further education isn’t the only option, as there are a multitude of paths I could choose to take upon accepting my diploma.
As I move closer to needing to fill out applications and asking for letters of recommendation, I’m also trying to figure out what else is out there. Writing is my passion; there’s nothing I love more than the beauty and purpose of words on paper, in music, in film. There is so much volume and limitless potential to the weight of words, and using this for any form of positive output to the world, even if just in the slightest, is an important part of where I take my career. Having this strength in desire for my field has driven me to work hard to improve my writing, in hopes that I can someday enter the community professionally and make a living doing what I love. Until then, I am doing everything in my power to keep my feet on the ground, taking senior year a day at a time, loving where I am and finding success in the small things.
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