Reflecting on 2011 is by no means a strenuous task. It wasn’t a particularly difficult year, being that there was no major crisis or horrendous misfortune thrown my way (thankfully). I worked two to four jobs at a time, and seemed to balance an active social life and numerous extra-curriculars while still having time to either eat or sleep.

It is reflecting on where I have been and what I have done to help guide my next steps that the annual end-of-year anxiety kicks in. This is especially heightened by my (hopeful) graduation in April, which will be throwing me out of the comfortable bubble-wrapped answer of “Well, I’m a student,” to the worst question ever, “What are you doing with your life?”, and into the (gasp) real world.

I am far from traditional (in the words of one of my more conservative friends, “Layla, you will definitely live an… interesting life”), but I’ve never really understood the whole pouring one’s soul out on the internet for all to see thing, or the competition that seems to be growing for generating a virtual audience that you don’t actually know, but who somehow have the right to get to know you. However, I am beginning to realize that in order to survive in today’s society, one most brand oneself into a neat little package for all to consume.

The more I think about it, the more I realize I should try to a) condense my life into something understandable, or at least rational, b) learn to describe myself, my goals, dreams, desires, and experiences in 140 characters, and c) invest in a smart phone that all the cool kids have had for a few years now. Then, you take all that and spew your life out into the Twitterverse and see who bites.

But branding myself is more than what it would cost ($17/year) to turn my blog from, to (And still being on a student budget, I can prolong this added expense until someone else buys the rights to that web address and the opportunity is gone).

The challenge for the last four months of my undergraduate degree may just be to try to narrow my lists, clean up my life, and present it in one tidy portfolio to the world (while keeping my marks high enough so that grad school is still an option). I need to figure out who I am exactly. I need to pick and choose which causes I can throw my efforts behind. I need to learn how to properly work a calculator and figure out how I’m supposed to pay rent and utilities to avoid contributing to the statistics about university graduates who move back home.

Perhaps because I am a commitment-phobe, or perhaps because I can never seem to value one item on my bucket list over another, or maybe even because actually working towards something tends to remind me for some sick reason of my own mortality (another fear of mine), this task of branding myself and narrowing my vision for my future has been overwhelming and has led to a lot of procrastination and stress-induced naps. There has been a lot of list-making and internet-searching, but I still have yet to make the roadmap towards some kind of destination. Do I go to grad school? How do I pay for grad school? So I should work. Where? When? How long? Screw it, I’ll travel. Where? When? How long? I should do school first. Maybe I should just write.

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