I can remember the last class of my last quarter in grad school. I was done. The major occupation of my previous eighteen years was…over. I had reached the finish line.
And while there was a little seed of excitement, mostly I was scared and more than a little disoriented. What was I going to do without assignments and deadlines? The school calendar had defined my days and now the rest of life was here. I was lucky to have a job, a new marriage, significant friendships, but if I looked in the mirror, who I would see now? I wasn’t quite sure. Whoever gazed back at me wouldn’t have my old familiar identity, student.
I was thinking about that last week when I wrote “the end” on a story I’d been working on for the last year. There was that sprint that comes right before the finish, and then I was on the other side of the manuscript wondering what life would be like without my two protagonists waking me up every morning. I was excited, but once again more than a little disoriented. And lonely? How can I miss imaginary people? Oh, sure there will be edits and copy edits, but it won’t be the same, finishing never is.
I planned to take a few days off, relax, after all, I’d worked hard. Maybe even celebrate. But, by the second day, I was edgy. So I asked Sci-Fi guy who had also just completed a manuscript what he did to celebrate. He looked at me sheepishly. “I gave blood,” he said. “It seemed fitting. And that night we had a bar-b-que. But we probably would have had the bar-b-que anyway.” So maybe I’m not the only one who isn’t good at celebrating.
So here’s what I want to know. When you accomplish a major goal, how do you celebrate? How do you mark the day? I have to confess that the very next morning I was back at my computer, striking up a conversation with a few new imaginary friends.