The Future: What happens to your dreams after college graduation?

I am a perfectionist.

In some cases, this is good. I work well under pressure. I have impeccable attention to detail. I care deeply about my work and making it as successful as possible.

In some cases, it’s not so good. I procrastinate because I am scared of the work that will face me once I begin. I have an intense need to feel control over my surroundings. I think I’m a failure for no good reason. I am terrified of uncertainty. I am fearful of the future.

The closer I get to college graduation (T minus 12 days!), the more “the future” becomes less of a problem for an abstract “future Leana” and more of a problem for my real self. The closer I get to the “real world,” the more I realize that faith in the future is not enough. Nothing is just going to fall into place for me. I have to figure out what I want. Then, I need to go take it.

I want my future to be full of love. I want to be able to find a workout that makes me smile, that makes both my body and soul happy. I want to find the right relationship, fall into it and probably out of it and learn about myself and what I like and dislike in a significant other along the way. I want to pursue my passions.

When I was younger, I dreamed of being the youngest author to make it to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. When I was younger, I watched Project Runway with wide eyes and dreamed of creating masterpieces from cloth and watching my work work it on the runway. When I was younger, I would marvel at Broadway spectacles and beg my parents not to make me leave the theatre. I wanted to experience the world of wonderment over and over again.

My passions haven’t changed. In some capacities, I have been working towards their pursuit. I write all the time, both creatively for my job and academically for my major. This semester, I wrote a 52-page thesis because I found an interest in the topic – the correlation between identity, language, and national belonging in an immigrant community – and chose to study it. When I transferred schools, I threw myself into costume design. Having started with no experience, over the past four semesters I have grown and consumed myself with the combination of my passions for fashion and musical theatre.

I want to continue on the path of passion. I want to convince myself that it is never too late to commit wholeheartedly. I want to stop being scared, stop thinking that being “good at school” means that I am not intelligent outside of academia, stop convincing myself that being a student is all that I will ever accomplish.

A few days ago, I found out that Juilliard has a costume internship program. I was ecstatic, excited to apply, only to find out that the applications had already closed. I am trying not to be discouraged by the missed opportunity. After all, there’s always next year.

In three years, I will be on the brink of 25. I want to have completed the Juilliard program. I have absolutely no idea where it would take me, but I want to revel in the possibility of being a different type of student. I want to learn about something for the joy of it, not for a requirement or a grade. I want to see the Met Gala up close and personal from a position at the Anna Wintour Costume Institute. I want to be filled with the same wonderment, the same childlike awe I experienced both times I have been lucky enough to attend a show at the Costume Institute.

In five years, I will be on the brink of 27. I want to be closer to starting a family, stop falling out of love and keep falling in it, more and more every day. I want to find a way to return to Philadelphia, where my family and brotherly love make me feel so at home. Sorry New York, you’re too expensive. Maybe I can curate a costume exhibit at the PMA, work in their costume research lab. Maybe I’ll be a teacher and get to spread my passion to the next generation. I can be anything. I just have to do it.

Leana Reich

Leana Reich is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology. She loves to explore cities, particularly by way of coffee shops and museums, and doesn’t properly understand how lucky she is to have lived at the beach her entire life. She does understand how lucky she is to have such an amazing mom as a role model and appreciates her every day.

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