I finished school five years ago with not a clue in the world as to what I might do next. My fellow graduates shared plans to work ski seasons in Canada, to teach at boarding schools in the UK and to study commerce and medicine. Without a single plan or even an idea, I found myself stranded in scary, unfamiliar territory. They call it No Man’s Land. Perhaps you’ve been there? Strangers come and go, lugging heavy backpacks full of uncertainty, confusion and fear, which are dumped in big, smelly junkyards. Some visitors stay for just a few days, but most spend months. Some unfortunate souls spend years.
I spent just over three months in No Man’s Land after finishing school. I made a few friends there with whom I have stayed in contact. Sam was driven by his parents, who were kind enough to pick me up along the way as I stuck up my thumb at the side of the road, tired from walking. Daisy took me under her wing, having stayed almost a decade. And of course, poor Harry, who spent just a week but left more confused than when he first arrived (like me, Harry has returned numerous times since). In No Man’s Land, we would wake each morning after restless sleep, and spend our days discussing Life’s Meaning and Robert Frost’s ‘The Road Not Taken’. We asked lots of questions, but no one gave answers.
I left No Man’s Land (for the first time) in January of the year after school, and jumped straight into a Journalism Degree. I didn’t know the way, (and couldn’t – still can’t – read a map for the life of me), but somehow got there. I lasted just one semester. I returned to No Man’s Land, and Daisy suggested I travel. I took her advice begrudgingly. I worked hard and saved harder, then spent five glorious months backpacking through Europe and South Africa. I returned home for the start of a new year, and began a double degree in Law and Arts. I somehow survived one whole year in Law School and have war scars to prove it. I found my wounded self back in No Man’s Land, after more travel, and Daisy suggested I return to the Real World and complete my Arts Degree.
So now, after five years of wrong turns and blistered feet, I am just four weeks from finishing my Bachelor of Arts. But here’s the funny thing – as soon as I’m done, I plan on ditching my black robes and running straight back to No Man’s Land. Despite the degree under my belt, I am just as unsure about my direction as the first time I set off onto the road towards No Where. I’ve got more bags of uncertainty, fear, confusion and frustration that need dumping, and it will nice to see my friends. I hope Daisy’s still there – No Man’s Land is a pretty spooky place to visit alone.