Despite how hard I try to focus on the present, my mind is always dreaming about the future.
I remember, as a young child, daydreaming about the person I would be at 18, when I thought this was the ultimate point of adulthood (let’s all have a good laugh at that).
When I was in high school, I dreamed about moving out of Conway and heading to college out-of-state.
When that didn’t happen and I decided to go to UCA instead of packing up and drive to Southern California, like my 17-year-old self wanted to do, I settled into four more years of dreaming about a life after graduation.
Don’t get me wrong, I try to live in the moment as much as I can.
I will always cherish the memories I’ve made, lessons I’ve learned and experiences I’ve had in my short 21 years.
But there has always been a part of my brain stretching out into a lunge like a track runner before an olympic race.
It’s the voice in my head constantly urging me to dream about the future, never allowing me to be fully grounded in the present.
It’s a blessing, sometimes, but equally a curse.
I’ve made and lost friends, changed my major and minor countless times, gained a better grasp on who I am, moved in and out of too many apartments, attended both weddings and funerals of close friends, backpacked Europe, interned in Madrid, explored Morocco, hiked all over the four- corners region of the Southwest U.S. (thank you Eric Bowne), developed a mostly unwavering confidence and have evolved into the very woman writing this sentence.
Now, with only finals left between me and an undergraduate degree, I have handfuls of ideas and zero plans.
Every time I’m asked by a stranger, relative, professor or friend, “So, what’s your plan?” my response is almost always a chuckle, a shrug and an, “I have no idea.”
It’s as if all of the time I’ve spent dreaming about the future, about being released from the shackles of higher education (shackles I locked myself), has caused me to freeze now that the time has finally arrived.
I’m the runner, stretched out and ready to sprint, who is unable to move as soon as the starting pistol is shot. But that is okay.
No one is supposed to actually have shit figured out at 21, right? I don’t fully trust people who do.
I’ve failed, succeeded, been rejected and accepted, wilted and grown and have been almost every contradiction you could think of.
While a majority of my failures are purely mine, I cannot claim to have arrived at my successes alone.
Without the love, support and harsh — yet necessary — advice from my friends, co-
workers, boyfriend, family and professors (looking at you, David Keith), I might not have made it to graduation.
I would have easily dropped out and settled on a different path.
Without the family I found at The Echo, my job and the anthropology department, it would have been easy to drop out and move on.
Two people I could never thank enough however, are my parents. Tim and Zaida [Gomez-] Kramer are two of the most supportive, hard-working and strongest people I’ve met.
Their unwavering support and love for me and my siblings is incomparable.
I don’t say it nearly enough, but thank you.
I have been lucky to spend a majority of my life surrounded by some of the best friends and family a person could ask for.
I’ve never seen higher education as a necessity, but rather as a pitstop in life before you reach something better.
To this day, I still do not believe that college is a necessity, nor that it is for everyone.
However, I think it ended up being a necessity for me.
My advice to any college student on his way toward the end? First, don’t take your time or life for granted.
It’s extremely cliché, but it’s true.
Both are fleeting, and it’s easy to miss important moments if you’re not paying attention.
Second, thank your professors who took the time to mentor you and to care.
I could never thank David Keith enough for all he’s done during my four years.
With any success usually comes a couple of “thank yous.”
Lastly, for the love of all things holy, work a job in customer service. Whether you believe it or not, it really does make you less of an ass.
Photos courtesy of Julia Kramer.