Katie Hofstetter

As a graduating senior, there is one question that I hate above all else. It’s the dreaded, “What are your plans for next year?”

Each time I hear it, I have to pause for a minute, allowing the “Dodgeball”-style bit of throw-up that has entered my throat to subside, and forcing back the word vomit that plagued Lindsay Lohan’s character in “Mean Girls” so that a slew of profanities won’t spit out of my mouth and land in the ears of the questioner.

After that ritual is completed, I usually try to mask the taste of vomit, both word and real, before answering with “I’m not quite sure yet.”

What I really want to do as a response to this hateful, hateful question is walk away, hang up or answer with “I plan on sleeping in until noon each and every day and watching ‘Dodgeball’ and ‘Mean Girls’ on repeat to fill my afternoons.”

Unfortunately, Cal Poly doesn’t offer a major in laziness, and while I’ve heard more than once that a journalism degree is the next best thing, I’d be inclined to disagree. Engineering is.

OK, well maybe not. But I can’t help feeling a hint of disdain for the engineering majors who are met with a plethora of prospective employers at any job fair.

Yes, we’re a polytechnic university, and yes, your major is accredited. Big whoop.

But the truth is, I’m not mad at the questioners, or the engineers. I’m anxious because I don’t have an answer yet.

This is the first time I’ve ever really had to plan anything so important, and I don’t even know where to start. Is it best to decide where to live and then look for a job? Or find a job first and then relocate accordingly?

With senior project deadlines to meet, finals to study for and graduation announcements to send out, the last thing I need to be worrying about is the rest of my life.

Thus is the burden of graduation and total independence.

The move to college marked the loss of a curfew, the all-important 18th birthday and later the most-important 21st birthday – all the pros of independent life.

With graduation come the cons: the full-time job, the rent check and the insurance policy.

Whatever elation my parents are feeling for their financial freedom I am feeling equally in fear for the responsibilities that come with being entirely on my own.

And each time I hear the dreaded question, the fear is recognized once again because really, I don’t have a plan yet.

So as the date of graduation draws nearer, instead of running toward the finish line, I’m hesitantly walking a plank into the harsh waters of the unknown. I can’t help but feel that my celebration of the end is tainted by the realization that I’m only just arriving at the starting line.

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