Junior years

Last night I started thinking about things after I’d turned off the computer, so I wrote my thinkings in my paper journal and now I’ll transfer them here.

I was talking to some friends tonight, and that got me thinking about junior years. There seem to be a lot of changes and growth going on in my friends’ lives, and in my life too. Junior year of high school felt the same way, I recall. Is it just something about junior years that gets us thoughtful? Must be that by the time you stop being a junior you’ve just begun to grow used to your “new” life, then you realize with a shock that your “new” life is three years old and it’s time to be thinking now of what will come next. Four years ago it was the knowledge (really, it didn’t feel real enough or certain enough to be “knowledge”) that we could soon be college students that set us in shock. Now, it’s the surprising discovery that we really are adults of some type, potential grad students, school teachers, even maybe husbands and wives.

At first while I was thinking about junior years, I was thinking how funny it was that they can be so pivotal, because we really only get two in our lives. Only high school and college are so neatly laid out into four-year periods, and even then college isn’t quite. But then I realized that it’s not really junior years that are so thought-provoking, it’s eve years in genereal, the years before any big life milestone. Fourth grade, seventh grade, those don’t count because there really isn’t so much suspense about your future, or the future of anyone else in your age group. But other eve years probably are just as exciting as junior years. The year before your graduation from graduate school, the year before you get married… all these years must possess equal measures of that pride, love, fear and excitement that make up junior years (and, in different degrees, the senior years that follow them).

I suppose the most devastating events in life aren’t junior years, because they don’t give you any time to think and react. Getting fired from a job, being left by a lover, sudden illnesses–maybe even unexpectedly finding oneself with a child… all these things require us to cope before we really even realize there’s a problem that needs to be coped with. Whereas with a junior year there’s the feeling that the whole world, in all its frightening or wonderful entirety, is opening up to you, and what you make of it is up to you. (It is this sentiment that leads to incredible cheesy remarks in graduation speeches, yearbook entries, etc.)

Or maybe that feeling is just what we should be having all the time. Maybe we should take this level of deep thought and bring it to everything in our lives, whether it’s a choice as small (or is it small?) of buying organic at the grocery store, or a blow as big as an unexpected breakup. I don’t know. Can we live like that? Would we feel everything too deeply to be able to survive it at all? Or would the feeling just lose its power?

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at satsumabug.livejournal.com.]