Well, with classes in full swing I think it’s safe to say that it’s official: summer is over y’all, even if the weather doesn’t want us to believe it. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m feeling pretty good about the new school year. After being abroad, I’d been desperately looking forward to coming back to Colgate. However, upon arriving early for Maroon-News pre-orientation and meeting all of the fresh-faced first-years (that term still sounds a little Hogwarts-y to me, but fine, administration, whatever!), it dawned on me that we, the Class of 2014, are now the big kids on campus. And the thought was weird. And I called all of my friends who graduated last year and told them to come back but they were busy being real people, so that was a bust.
I am a senior now. This is actually happening. There’s no going back to August 2010, moving into Curtis Hall for the first time, experiencing the glory that was (and probably still is) having Flex dollars and not having to chase down the Cruiser to get to class on time. Nope, none of that for me. Instead, I live in an apartment, cook for myself (mostly) and am forced to walk up the hill when I can’t haul myself out of bed on time. I apologize to all the students in my morning classes who have to deal with my sweaty self.
And, of course, I’m left with a fat, heaping pile of expectations. Not from myself, necessarily; I mean, obviously I expected to come back to Colgate and to endure the endless pages of reading that comes with being an English concentrator and to find Ryan Gosling waiting for me in my bed when I come home from the library. All of that was pretty much a given. No, instead I am expected to have my you-know-what together, know exactly what I want to do after graduation and have a 10-year plan, all of this because I spent the last three years of my life in college.
Frankly, these expectations are the worst. I mean, fine, I’ll accept that it’s pretty objectionable to go out every night of the week (except for Sunday and Tuesday, obviously) when I have an ungodly amount of schoolwork to do, but that doesn’t mean I think that’s the way life should be. I’ll admit that I probably shouldn’t be marathoning “30 Rock” on Netflix when I have plays to read for my senior seminar. And, most importantly, while I may have the good fortune of knowing where I’d ultimately like to end up career-wise, I have no idea where I see myself in five years. I could be anything from a big-time magazine editor ? la Miranda Priestly in “The Devil Wears Prada” to a suburban housewife with seven kids (oh my God, please no).
The point is no matter how much planning we do, how many expectations we’re supposed to live up to or how many Career Services meetings we attend, we could end up somewhere completely unexpected. In the blink of an eye our lives could change, and I firmly believe that we all find ourselves where we’re supposed to be one way or the other. This is not to say we should be passive in our existence. There’s no fun to be had in watching life happen around you, but it does mean that we can relax a little about our futures.
For my 20th birthday, my parents sent me a framed Peanuts cartoon featuring Charlie Brown asking his blanket-toting friend Linus what he wants to be when he grows up. Linus’s answer? Outrageously happy. Cheesy, I know, and I told my parents so when I called to thank them. But still, the significance remains: no matter what we want for ourselves or whatever expectations others have for us, the whole point of life is to end up happy. And now that this article has gotten much more philosophical than I had originally intended, I’ll leave you, and especially the seniors, with this:
Don’t miss out on your time here just to figure out what you’ll do when you leave this school. As completely depressing as it is and as much as I hate to say it, our days left here are numbered. Don’t just use them to plan your future; live them to the fullest.