On Saturday, June 11, 2016, I graduated from college. It took me 5 years, 1 transfer, and multiple major changes to finally figure out what I wanted to do with my academic career. I got a degree titled Ecogastronomy and Creative Writing from Fairhaven College. This means that I studied equal parts science and English. What I’ll do with it, who knows? Something creative and meaningful, that’s for sure.
Rich gave me my sendoff speech at graduation. Since Fairhaven is such a small school, each graduate is able to choose one professor or person that influenced them during their college career. They have the power to tell the audience all the cool things (or not cool things) you did during your time in school.
Rich presented three of us. Sam, a brilliant scientist and writer. He wore a bright orange NASA suit to graduation. Sam is obsessed with the complexity of the Universe and loves studying the stars and planets. He will go far, I am sure. Next was Chiara, this crazy environmentalist with these great, signature eyebrows. Talk about an interesting person to have a conversation with! One time I ran into her in the dining hall and she told me the story about how she climbed onto the chains of a big oil ship heading up to the Arctic. She stayed there for THREE DAYS. Eventually she came down and was slapped with a big $20,000 fine courtesy of the federal government. She’s a badass, even if she’s a vegetarian. Then there was me. The little, satirical weirdo who can enter different worlds and write about it. I don’t really have anything going for me except for crap like this:
Mom says that Fairhaven is the “school for misfit toys” and I think that’s a pretty accurate description. She forgot the part about the plethora of creative genius at Fairhaven. I have never felt so proud and inspired to live my life in a real “fuck the rules, but with reason” kind of way. No grades. You function on your own ambition and drive. This is a great model for the real world. The Fairhaven student that takes advantage of this style of education does big things in life. It didn’t take me long to become more aware of my classmates and the impact they are going to have for the future generations. These people are real artists. Real collectives. Intelligent people with a thing or two to say about the significance of life and earth.
I walked into my first class at Fairhaven unaware of myself and completely detached from a solid path in life. Honestly, I was floundering and the education I received from Fairhaven College taught me how live my life with my eyes wide open. During my time as a Fairhaven student, I lived in Hawaii and worked on an organic farm for internship credit, traveled to Southeast Asia and lived in village culture for academic credit, rekindled my love of reading, and most importantly found my passion: creative writing.
Rich Simon, the man who presented me at graduation and my Green Literature, Creative Writing, and Big History professor, is the person who helped me open the channel to my entire Universe. In his classes, I began to understand the intricacies of my mind. I discovered worlds I could travel to with the power of creative thought. Rich’s Green Literature class inspired me so much that it fired me onto my own personal path of “enlightenment.” I am in love with the the written word. After an unhealthy amount of time searching for my life purpose, it came to me in the most cliché way life could ever hand me a gift: out of nowhere. After a long journey of serious lows, I was guided to something that has given me so much peace, understanding, and sense of responsibility in the world.
Truthfully, I was sad and without purpose for the first half of my academic career. It took a while for me to regain a serious passion, but I can say those lows of lessons inspired me to keep fighting for something meaningful I could do for society.
The above doesn’t go to say that I don’t think that veganism isn’t the single most, best thing that you can do for the environment. It is. You just have to hit a certain level of depression about the status of the world to understand that you have to learn how to enjoy life alongside all of the injustices. Balance.
So what now? How do I create my life outside of academics?
I was offered a few different job opportunities. With carefully crafted thought (and also an employer that asked me out to dinner directly after hiring me), I have come to a conclusion that I want to see more of the world instead of entering the 9-5. I want to explore, observe, and write about it. So I’m moving back home for the summer to save as much money as possible so I can continue to see for myself what’s going on with the state of the world. I want to travel with a lot of purpose and responsibility.
Where to? Maybe back to Europe. Or maybe I’ll explore the work ethic of the Japanese or teach English in China to observe population growth and pollution. Maybe I’ll research the inevitable death of the Great Barrier Reef caused by humans. Maybe I’ll write for travel companies or even create an entirely new company that promotes ethical travel. Who knows? Who cares? The only thing that I care about is that I am aware of all of the open doors and it’s up to me to choose the one that’s going to fire me to the next level of awareness.