I have been coasting all week.
My lively trip into a river a few days ago still only got me up to okay. I wasn’t good or great; I was just making it. Mostly happy. Mostly content. Not bad, of course, but not filled with wonder at the world around me as I usually was. I had accepted this as my fate until a few weeks later—that is usually how long it takes me to recover from finals.
Yesterday, I had my last final (my final final, if you will), a three-minute presentation for a class I didn’t care about, and the senior defense of my Creative Writing Capstone. All of those things went well. The last one especially so, for the words Dr. Guinn—one of my professors who is a published writer himself—said to me during my defense will stick in my mind forever.
You will be a novelist, Karis. The only thing stopping you is you.
I got a thrill from those words, a jolt the moment they were from my professor’s mouth. My dream, acknowledged, affirmed. The stunned silence that followed was quickly swept over by following comments from another professor, and I strove to stamp down the elation building in my chest so I could concentrate on the rest of the defense. Despite this, that rising feeling stayed with me throughout the rest of the night, trembling through my fingertips until I had to take two more melatonin than usual just to get to sleep.
And today, already, the passion is back, the Itch in my chest, burning and rushing and alive. I woke this morning full of exhilaration, joyous at the prospect of a new day, and sang along to Tim Atlas’s “Wander” as I showered and got ready for work. I finished my fifth book of the week today, started a new journal, and realized over and over again that this is it. I’m graduating in a few days. My family is coming down to Jackson soon for the Baccalaureate service and the graduation ceremony. This time next week, I will wake in Virginia on the side of a quite mountain and breathe fresh, clean air. I will take time to relax. I will be a college graduate, no longer a student.
The week after finals is usually the time that I take to recover from the end-of-semester rush, but, somehow, that has already happened. I am me again. And I thought I would need longer to recover, longer than a few days to resume writing without it feeling forced, but Dr. Guinn’s words brought me back. They pulled me from the brink of disassociation that always accompanies the end of finals.
His words have been on repeat in the back of my head ever since; I don’t believe I will ever forget them.
The only thing stopping you is you.