The clock in my room is broken. It’s one of those digital ones with the built-in CD player and dual alarms. It is red, perfectly complimenting the rest of my dorm d?ecor. Now the hour always reads “J”.It’s not even stuck at an annoying number like “7” or a likeable letter like “A”, which stands for “amazing”, “absolutely”, and “Adam Aabrams”, the boy I had a crush on in the sixth grade. Instead, it’s stuck at “J”.It’s as if a divine force has come down to my alarm clock and said, “Thou Shalt be J and there was J.” There’s simply no other explanation. What could it mean? What does “J” stand for? “Jump”? “Jelly”? “Jesus! It’s 9:20 and I’m late for class”?
I’ve learned to use my cell phone as an alarm instead, but I’ve left my old broken alarm clock on. It stands glowing green “J” as if it’s a death candle for what it once was. It saw me through some hard times: naps after all-nighters, my first 8:20. Good times. I have also left it on because I continued to be captivated by the mystery of the “J”.
Then, the other night at exactly J:08 AM, while attempting to fall asleep, I rolled over to face my clock and I realized what the “J” stood for: JOB. I need to find a job. The first semester of my senior year is over and I don’t have any idea what I will be doing in six months. I continued to stare at my clock. My clock’s message was confirmed by the following one: J:09. JOG. I also need to exercise more.
Two such significant messages could not be ignored. I’ve thought a lot about getting a job but I haven’t actually done much about it. The problem is that I don’t really know what kind of job I want. I could go the sensible route and get one of those non-sensible-but-still-corporate jobs that we liberal arts students all eventually end up doing, or I could go save the world. While I definitely feel ready to leave academia for a while, I don’t really feel ready to enter the real world, to devote my life to a nine-to-five where I spend years working myself up through a hierarchy until I eventually arrive at a job that I felt qualified for three years ago and just barely supports whatever family I might have by that point.
I was thinking about all this while I was supposed to be writing a paper. All serious thoughts arise as a means to procrastination. Rarely is one out partying and thinks, “Hm, I should be recycling all these beer cans…and then put that on my resume when I apply for that Environmental justice job.” I decided to take a break and get a cup of coffee. The patron of this fine coffee was a girl who I traveled abroad with. She told me her plans for next year included returning to India, where we studied together, for a year before she moved to New York City to get some job that sounded really boring to me because it involved money, and while I like money and I like math, I don’t really want to have anything to do with the two of them together, especially when the word “consulting” is involved.
I have to admit that I walked away from our conversation with a tinge of envy. Up until this point, I was pretty much leaning towards the direction of employment in the Western world, but why can’t I just decide that I’m going to live in a foreign country for a year? Is it bravery that I lack or is it that I have a genuine interest in making myself part of the capitalist system? Will I do the world more good by building homes in Sierra Leone or making lots of money so that I can eventually pay for the materials in those houses? There’s so much to think about that I’ll just start with the jog.