Editor’s Column: Life Decisions

It’s that time of year again when the sun’s out, dorm windows are wide open with music blasting into the quad, students linger on the lawn throwing a football, lying out, or just talking with various friends. But despite the warm weather and atmosphere that’s come with it, this time of year we’re all faced with various decisions.

For me, my decision been the issue of whether or not to transfer. My frustrations are well thought out. I’ve written lists, talked to my parents, friends, my academic advisor and even had some friendly (and motherly) advice offered me from professors who truly reached across the typical professor-student relationship and have touched my life. Frankly, I’m torn.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to realize a few things (although not much). I realize the mistakes I’ve made, the things I’d do over and the regrets I have, but I also see the good choices, the wise choices. The times I stood by my morals, went against the crowd; when I stood up for myself, argued my beliefs even if I was alone, and didn’t succumb to the peer pressure. But one recurring theme has always been this (don’t let my parents hear me say it, but): my parents were always right. They’ve always looked out for me, wanted the best for me and have tried to give me the best life I could ask for. So, it’s only logical I went to them with my frustrations

The other night, my dad said something that really hit me. You know how sometimes in a conversation someone will mention a thought that, however insignificant it is to them, is a significant revelation for you and makes you consider the topic on a much deeper level? (Yes professors, this happens in the classroom.) That happened to me. He said “Matt, life is hard. From here on out you’ll constantly be in a battle for time – what you want to do versus what you have to do. There’s a famous movie that years ago, many CEO’s would show to their new hires – young businessmen on their way up- that’s titled ‘What You Are Is Where You Were When.’ Meaning, the choices you make today directly affect the life that you’re preparing for yourself tomorrow. You can look back now and realize the choices you made thus far in life have prepared you for where you are today. And likewise, the choices you make today at Colgate directly affect where you will be 10 years from now. Except 10 years from now you won’t be able to change your occupation and you won’t be able to go back and change a lot of things. Right now you’re making a lot of big decisions; make sure you choose wisely.”

His advice ran contrary to that of many friends who encouraged me to “follow my heart” or “follow my dreams.” Their advice, however, didn’t help at all. You all know what I’m talking about. You’re trying to make a tough decision that’s tearing you apart, and it seems everyone has advice to offer, but after a while you find none of it really applies to you and as soon as someone says “well, you should just…” you immediately begin to space out and think “but you have no idea.” Which is why the other day, while I was sitting around mindlessly playing through my iTunes playlist, that the following lyrics caught my ear:

“They said boy you just follow your heart

But my heart just led me into my chest

They said follow your nose

But the direction changed every time I went and turned my head

And they said boy you just follow your dreams

But my dreams were only misty notions

But the Father of hearts and the Maker of noses

And the Giver of dreams He’s the one I have chosen

And I will follow Him”

I don’t know if you, like me, believe in God – or if not, who you run to when your bank account has all but run out, be it Celine Dion, The OC, Michael Moore, or your boyfriend/girlfriend, but I’ve found one thing: when we’re confused or lost, our parents know us the best and they’re exactly the ones who will never let us forget who we are (and they have many incriminating baby photos to prove it).

For me, my dad pointed me to God. For you, that may be someone or something different but I’d encourage you, as the year comes to a close and we all face tough decisions about the coming summer, year, relationship, job or whatever it may be, to remember “You are what you were yesterday.”

No matter where you are in your Colgate career, you’re preparing a future for yourself somewhere. Just remember that the decisions you make today directly affect the person you will be tomorrow. Make sure you choose wisely.