Denouement is a term that can be found in any dictionary or high school AP English class followed by the definition, “the final outcome of the main dramatic complication in a literary work”. Now, the example in that listing is “two lovers commit suicide”, but hopefully that’s not how my “denouement” is going to go.
Honestly, I haven’t thought of this term since 12th grade. I haven’t needed it in all my years of being an English major. I’ve been in a writing rut for the past month with my final papers due, graduation, and moving, so the last thing I’ve wanted to do is sit down in front of a screen and make my mind do anything else. Some call it writer’s block, I think it was just the phasing out of my denouement.
No one ever really talks about what comes after this big finale; sure, sometimes there is a short epilogue summarizing the ending with a pretty little bow, but what about our own endings? What about my denouement? As students, we spend our lives working towards the future and carefully choosing every step we take based on what we want our future to look like and yet when presented with that final step we have no idea what to do next. I’ve had this stress looming over me the past couple of weeks that something is due, like there is a paper I need to write or an assignment I need to turn in. We all know there’s not, I just don’t know what to do with myself next.
I think we all expect to have our denouements followed immediately by another grand adventure only to be faced with the harsh reality that it’s not there. It’s not going to be as lavish as you expect and the only one trying to make it that way is you. I guess that’s just adulting? Sounds pretty sad.
I guess it doesn’t have to be sad. I’m excited for all of the new people I am going to meet. I think I’m more sad that the climactic event of my young adult life has come and gone; I’ve graduated college, and it really wasn’t that climactic at all. It was no Romeo and Juliet gasp moment, it was just me getting a congratulations email. There it was, my entire literary adventure wrapped up in the lines “best wishes”.
I don’t really know what to do next. I don’t know when it is going to feel like I have officially entered adulthood and I am leaving my schooling past behind. It’s like birthdays, you don’t really feel older until you suddenly realize you’re closer to being 30 than to being a freshman in high school again. Growing up is weird.