I stand up as straight as I can. My ponytail barely grazes the hand next to the sign that reads “you must be this tall to ride.”
I get in line. Beads of sweat form on my palms and the pit of stomach starts to turn.
I’m giddy and nervous all at the same time. I’m approaching the front of the line.
“You’ve done this before,” I remind myself.
My mind and body know what’s coming next, yet I fear for when the big drop hits. I step one foot and then the other into the carriage. The warmth of the seat is familiar. I remember it from the last ride I went on.
“It will be just like the other ones!” I reassure myself.
The attendant forces the lap bar onto my abdomen. My stomach turns even more.
“Keep your arms and legs inside the carriage at all times.”
I’m moving. For a moment I start to panic. I can feel my heart pounding in my chest.
I lose feeling in my fingers. I squeeze my eyes shut and try to breathe. This happens every time I ride.
As we start to pick up speed, I remember much I love rollercoasters. I love the air in my face. It’s so strong that it’s impossible to take the smile off my face. The feeling is so familiar—just like the other roller coasters I have been on.
So why was I nervous? Why was I scared to get on a ride that I know gives me a jolt of adrenaline and puts a huge smile on my face? Why was I hesitant to sit in a seat so similar to the ones I have sat before?
Click. Click. Click.
All of a sudden, my carriage slows down. I am lying back in my chair, staring up at the sky. My back feels like it’s parallel to the ground. I have no idea what is coming next. I’m nervous again. That feeling in my stomach is back. But this time it’s ten times stronger. We’re almost to the top.
Click Click. Click.
If you’re anything like me, you like being in control. You want to know what is going to happen next. You want to make your own choices. You want to be comfortable. And when you don’t, you get nervous. You start to sweat and feel sick to your stomach.
Everything up to this point has been familiar. I was on a track that I had been on many times before. It felt safe.
Now there is a track in front of me but I can’t see where it goes. I have no idea how high the drop is. I have no idea how long it lasts. I have no idea if it goes straight down or if it leads into a loop. I have no idea if there are corkscrews or sharp turns. I have no idea where or when it ends.
Click. Click. Click.
The carriage stalls at the top.
I just turned in my last two assignments in college. I just turned in the last homework I will ever do. I just turned in the most familiar thing in my life. For the past 20 years I have been in school. I have been strapped in a carriage on the track of academia.
Each year, I was nervous. Each year, I was excited. But each year was just a replica of the last—with a few more twists and turns. Each year I turned in homework. Each year I went to class. Each year I studied for exams. Although sometimes harder than the year before, each year was the same.
Now I am about to graduate. The past few weeks, my carriage has been slowly chugging its way to the top. The real nerves have kicked in. I have no idea what happens next. I have no idea where this track will take me. I feel like I am about to plunge down headfirst. But there is no turning back now. I am strapped in and I will find out what’s next whether I like it or not. There’s no going back now.
Click Click Click.
I throw my arms up in the air and scream because I really don’t know what else to do.