Only one problem.

On my 18th birthday my friend Annette gave me a key chain. It read, “Every end is also a new beginning.” The implication was obvious; we were graduating high school and embarking on the next phrase of our lives, college for me and matrimony for her. And rather than bemoan the ending of an era, she was encouraging me to celebrate the excitement that accompanies the future.

Only one problem. The scariest word in the English language is future. For a girl like me, unsure of her geographic, professional, or romantic potential, there is nothing worse than someone informing you that the world you have come to call your own is about to draw to its inevitable end. And in its wake lies the future.

Today, as I closed the first chapter of my post-collegiate life, I again experienced the same sensation as my now former coworkers informed me that “exciting things lay ahead,” that I “would succeed in whatever I pursued,” and that they were genuinely “interested to see where the future takes” me.  Because the truth is, while they were celebrating in the possibilities of the days ahead my knees were shaking and my breath was short.

For a meticulous planner with borderline OCD, an unchartered territory– in this case, my future– is perhaps the most insurmountable obstacle. One that no amount of Dido, Lily Allen, or Nelly Furtado can assist in surmounting. But as one attorney reminded me, I never say no a challenge. I am the metaphorical mountain climber, who will see the insurmountable and mount it.

And this time around I’ll have a year of real life experience under my belt. I’ll go forward knowing that money sadly does not grow on trees, but certainly does seem to blossom in the pockets of landlords; that in a New York work day at least two coffee breaks– one in the morning, and one post lunch– are necessary to thrive and produce substantive material; and that asking for help in a moment of disarray is not actually a sign of weakness but one of strength.

I’ll approach Monday morning with an understanding of professional bureaucracy; with the expectation that there will be forms, and plenty of them, for me to complete before collecting my first pay check. I will welcome the struggle that accompanies figuring out how to set up my voicemail; how to attach a signature to my email; and how to scan a document into the multi-buttoned scanner/printer/faxer/time machine.

And I will do so with the recognition that all beginnings are difficult; that change is uncomfortable; and perhaps if I am particularly in touch with my feelings, that while today marks an end Monday marks a beginning that I have the ability to shape into the oh so dreaded, but perhaps maybe a little welcome future.

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