Learning the facets of life

Awkward transitions abound in life. Let’s all remember adolescents, that time in life when we weren’t quite sure what was happening to our body. Hormones tore through body and mind, forcing us to ask difficult questions like, “Do I really like Jenny? Like her like that? No way… she’s a girl! Gross.” Fundamentally, however, the big issue that we all had to address is: “What’s happening to my body?”

Now, being a senior in college, another question rears its ugly head almost perpetually: “What’s happening to my life?” Some people say that these are the best years of life. If that’s true, as it may very well be, I would also have to argue that the end of these years is also the most nerve-wracking. Responsibility is a dirty word – without a planner, it would be near impossible to keep straight all the commitments and obligations that crop up in one week. And on top of everything, I’m supposed to figure out what I want to do for the rest of my life.

I envy those who set out with a vision – they’ve always wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or policeman. They’ve had a goal that they’ve been working towards and an endgame in sight. For those of us who do not fall into that category, those of us who know what they enjoy doing but don’t think they can make a living out of it, the problem is a little more menacing. Can I make a living writing episodes where I’m the captain of my own starship? Chances are slim to none. Can I support myself by being bad at video games? Probably not. I miss the days when the largest dilemma one had to deal with was solving math problems and deciding what to pack in your lunch. Now, those problems on paper have manifested themselves in a very real context, and peanut butter and jelly is no longer the ultimate food item.

What can be done? Is it possible to survive senior year of college and have a direction to go in the ‘real world’ that awaits? I’ve seen it done before, but I never before realized how my older friends must have felt with the thousand trivial items on their ‘to-do’ lists tumbling around in their heads. But then again, I’m sure my older friends got the same advice that I’m receiving now – sometimes it helps to take a look at things from another, more distant, perspective.

This may feel like a crucial time in life, and it certainly is, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the most defining moment in life. If I were to juxtapose the person I was five years ago with the person I am now, I’d be seeing two different people. In high school I was a band geek. In college I work on the newspaper. Those were two facets of life that defined me. And in another five years, I’ll be yet another different person, defined by something else. Even though these incarnations of me have changed hobbies and interests, the core skills that have enabled me to succeed this long won’t change.

So my advice to myself, my fellow college seniors, and everyone going through tough decisions right now is to just hang in there. If you have the skills and the talent, life will turn out alright. It’s happened before and it will happen again. Just be thankful for your good friends and count your lucky stars that puberty only happens once.

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