Why ARE we here?
I have no idea what I'm doing next year.
I've seen the flyers, I've been to the career fairs, I've spent hours contemplating my options and networking on the Internet. Yet, nothing seems right.
While I was opening my mail the other day, a healthy dose of reality greeted me in the friendly form of my loan statement. It details just how far in debt I'll be when I get my little piece of paper in May, how long I have before this debt is due and just how much the payments will be. It was at this point that I proceeded to panic.
What am I doing here? Why did I sweat blood to finance a liberal education that will leave me so deeply in debt — with no way out? Why do I struggle to make ends meet to study literature and history when I will probably never apply what I'm learning?
It hit me when I was having coffee with a friend of mine. She was unhappy in her major, but stuck it out because she knew she would get a high-salary job after graduation. She told me that if she had had a choice, she would have chosen a much more impractical field of study, like mine.
But she did have a choice. We all do.
I don't know how or why or when, but somewhere between the rat race to get into college and the great exodus to get out of it, the focus of why we are here has shifted from simply gaining a liberal education to using it as a springboard to a career. What happened to learning for the sake of learning?
You can call me an idealist, you can call me a dreamer, you can even call me unemployed if you like, but when you ask me if I'm truly happy with the choices I've made about what to study here, I'm going to tell you yes.
What's the point of going to class if all you do throughout its duration is silently will the clock to tick faster? I can understand this if you didn't finish the reading for that day, of course, but not if you are that perpetually unhappy. Have you ever taken a moment to ask yourself why ARE you here?
Instead of concentrating our energy on what we will do and where we will be next year, we need to embrace the moment and remember why we are here now. And we need to enjoy it, because the minute we wish it away, it's gone, and we can never get it back
Worry about tomorrow when tomorrow comes. It's OK if you have no clue what you're doing next year. Do what you love, and the career will follow. What do you have to look forward to if your whole life is planned out for you, step by step? That's the best part, the not- knowing, the discovering-as-you-go. You never know what you're going to read that very well may alter your whole way of thinking, or who you're going to meet that very well may alter your whole heart.
I may be broke, I may be in debt, and I very well may be unemployed next May, but you can bet your boots I'll be happy. I will be able to look back on my time here and say that all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it — not because it got me a job, but because of what I learned and how I grew.
And in the end, that's all that really matters.
The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.
All Inside Stories for Tuesday, September 14, 1999