The Old College Try
There are not enough pictures of me holding red cups to sufficiently prove that I have had a college experience. I have not pulled an all-nighter, forgotten to turn in a paper, or played frisbee on the South Lawn. I’ve missed several football games, and every basketball game, and I do not own a piece of neon clothing. The closest I’ve come to stupid college decisions is dropping my phone in the toilet on election night.
In many ways I’m not doing college the “right way,” whatever that may mean. I do not identify with the normal actions of my generation in many respects, but I do align with their feelings. Just like so many others, I am lost, confused, and uncertain.
The future is a scary place. Unemployment is real, and we are reminded of it almost constantly. I possess a constant fear that my liberal arts degree may not place me in a position where I can make enough money to live anywhere outside of Iowa. But what’s scarier to me than the jobless future and inflation of the U.S. currency is my own lack of certainty.
I came into college certain that I would never write for a newspaper again. My junior year of high school I wanted to be a journalist to tell stories and bring them to the people, and at freshmen orientation I decided that I had been wrong. I dropped my journalism degree only to arrive at The Daily Texan three years later.
The path I will take to the rest of my life is still shrouded to me in a forrest of indecision, opportunity, and time. I was told that college was the place where I would find myself, which has certainly been true. I have learned to act like myself, and think like myself, and ignore others when they contradict that. But no one told me that learning to find myself would not necessarily mean finding my future.
With only three more semesters left in my undergraduate education (including this one), I know the same things I knew when I arrived: that I love words, and stories that move people, and productivity, and fast paced work. I know that there are so many things I want to learn that I have tried to convince myself to pursue doctorate degrees in at least six different fields. And knowing all of these things helps me know just how confused I am.
I know that these decisions need time: that careers are transient, and that most jobs aren’t dream jobs but they pay the bills. In the meantime, I’ll keep hoping that all of this self-discovery will manifest itself in a job in about 16 months. In the meantime, I’ll keep taking poorly paid jobs and reading books on everything from Russian history to biographies of Winston Churchill.
I guess this is why they call it the old college try instead of the old college negligence. We have to wrestle with it to get there.