What if you went to sleep tonight and woke up tomorrow a hundred and thirteen years from now? That is the exact situation Julian West, the protagonist from Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel Looking Backward, finds himself in at the start of the text. Well, I have been thinking about time and how quickly it can pass us by, especially since in a little over two months I will be done with my undergraduate degree. While I haven’t been sleeping the past four years away, quite the opposite actually, I can relate to West’s character in that when I wake up in the morning the world often seems new. Fundamentally, the big parts of my life have not changed – my jobs are steady, my classes are familiar, and my readings are still intensive – yet my life still feels different.
I am approaching a change, there is no doubt about that, but this shift has been so gradual that honestly, I hardly saw it coming at all. There is just something in the air, not a nip of frost; maybe the winds of change are blowing in my face to catch my attention? Whenever I enter the Humanities lounge or lecture hall now I think, “Soon I will be here for the last time” and my breath catches in my throat. After that moment, however, those feelings are gone; I turn to a friend and start a conversation or I set down my things to work for a bit before my next class. These thoughts about graduation are both exciting and nerve-wracking. Part of me is so enthralled about engaging with the next adventure life has to offer and the other part of me just wants to hunker down in the lecture hall to listen to my professors talk about literature, philosophy, and politics forevermore. My attachment to my program and the relationships it helped me build makes me unsure if I am ready to let go of the security and comfort it offers me.
Therefore, in order to avoid spending too much time thinking about letting it all go I decided to throw myself into my schoolwork with an even more intense vigor than usual. However, I have noted an unusual pattern in the self-selected due dates for my final assignments, papers, and presentations – the majority of them fall right at the end of the term. To anyone who knows me personally, you will know that if given the opportunity I am generally the person who volunteers to do everything first; this is a holdover from my elementary school days and it has often served me well. This term though, I have signed up for several presentations in March! Moreover, not only in March, but April too!
My theory is that by stacking all of my final projects at the end of the term, I will succeed in pushing all thoughts of leaving, graduation, and next steps from my mind. I wonder if it will work. Since I am writing this blog post about it, I have a feeling that my thought process has flaws. Then again, I am still a student, and I am still learning. No, my world has not jumped a hundred and thirteen years into the future but I am on the cusp of waking up in a completely new era, at least where my life is concerned. I can only hope that I will adapt to my new future as well as Bellamy’s Julian West; he accepted his new world with an open mind and heart – I aim to do the same.
*I read Bellamy’s novel for my fourth-year Studies in American Literature seminar on utopias.