So, I graduated from college 2 weeks ago. It didn’t hit me until I was about 30, 000 feet somewhere over the Sierra Nevada, on my way back home to San Jose. I understand why it took some time for these feelings to settle in my head. I was busy studying for finals, doing preliminary Fulbright preparations and enjoying my friends to think about the significance of this moment in my life. It’s not necessarily the fact that I graduated from college that hit me on that plane. It is the transition that I associate with graduation. Everything that was so real and safe to me went from reality to memory during a 6 hour plane ride. I have clung to the identity of student as a source of pride, an explanation for my mistakes and my youth. And now, it is all over.
Oh yes, I also cut off most my hair on the way home from the airport. I had toyed with the idea of going natural for a long time and once I knew that I was going to India (where black hair salons are most likely few and far between, if any) I half heartedly knew that my hair was coming off and a short do was imminent. A short low maintenance style is perfect for adventure and life on the go, the last thing I want to be doing is worrying about hair. I wonder if and how my hair will enter the conversations that I will have in India.
When a person mixes together a graduation, a big haircut and a move across the world into a short period of time it is impossible not to feel something (unless you are an enlightened buddhist?). I am severing myself from everything that brings me comfort, most of the things that I am attached to and some of the things that defined me. Naturally, I credit the lion’s share of my overwhelming feelings to the fact that I am going to India. I’m all over the spectrum, excitement, fear of the unknown, anticipation, concern. I am worried about being a good teacher, getting everything in order (I just got my visa so that eliminated a lot of the concern and stress that I was feeling), packing and speaking another language. I also know that in a month from now, and for the next 9 months, my life will be so different from what it is now, or what it was even 1 month ago. So how do I prepare? Should I start packing now? Do I memorize the handbooks before orientation next week? Should I stock up on my “can’t live without” products? Should I figure out what those are?
I don’t think there is any “right way” to prepare. Having been to India before, I think the best thing that I can do is make sure that I am open and ready with very few expectations. I am trying to practice patience, compassion, mental strength and a good sense of humor. I’m also reading a bit, as well. I am currently reading Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sarah Macdonald. My goal is to finish the Hindu epics The Ramayana and the The Bhagavad Gita (I’m halfway into both) before I leave. I also have Indira Gandhi: A Biography by Pupul Jayakar that I bought the last time I was in the country. I will probably bring it along. In 2011 I read John Keay’s India: A History, which was very interesting to read while in the country itself.
So this is where I am two weeks after graduation: I have short hair and I am trying to determine how to embrace this change and prepare for the next step.
Stay tuned for pictures of my short do’ and a post about Fulbright orientation!