Reluctantly crouched at the starting line…


I THOUGHT, ALL DAY I THOUGHT of how I could put my current life into words.

Frustration. Confusion. The pursuit of lifelong ambitions followed by a screeching halt; far and few believe in me, it seems. These don’t even scratch the surface.

It would be so easy, so terribly easy to stop in my path and let go of my objectives. Give up.  I cannot honestly think of anything more temporarily gratifying at the moment. I am trying my best to stick out my college days, sauntering and haphazard currently, but it’s difficult when those I look to for direction cannot even pretend to take me seriously.

What do you want me to say, when I’m asked what I want to do with my life? Is there even a logical or respectable answer to this inquiry? How can you know?

On a flight from Dayton to Fargo this past fall, I sat next to an older man who gave me some of the most reassuring, unforgettable advice I’ve ever been given. I had just changed my major at the time, and when he asked me what I was studying, I explained to him my situation with much unease.

When I’d finished the long, bashful utterance of my debatable future, I ended with the final words of, “I don’t really know what I want to do with my life.”

He paused, only for a moment, to gather his composure.

“Listen,” he said sternly, “when I know what I want to do with my life, I’ll be the happiest man in the world.” He sat back in his chair and stared straight ahead before making a closing remark. “Don’t worry about it, okay?” I knew he meant business.

It’s one thing to hear these words from someone you know, but it is entirely different coming from a complete stranger. He was right — don’t worry about it. Too often I get carried away tormenting myself about the future that I completely dismiss the now.

I have raised myself with the mentality that individuals graduate high school, pursue a chosen major, earn a degree, and advance themselves into a perfect box containing a job suitable of their studies.

I am sadly mistaken.

And now I know these said boxes are no more, and no less than a niche we so desperately want to conform our careers to, specific molds that we sculpt ourselves to fit as best we can. I am trying to chisel my education to my liking, only to find that I have repeatedly been carving erroneously. Nothing fits. My life feels off-kilter, obscure, and of tune.

I am worn out, exhausted of asking myself where I belong. I persistently seek a path to something greater, but time and time again have been stopped in my tracks. Advice from faculty has been nothing short of circular and  hindering. I am a no-name face without an ounce of credence to my existence. To them, I am just another.

Just another student with a camera and a college ID card. Just another student here for the party. Just another student aiming for a less-than-satisfying degree, only to get it done and over with and begin a less-than-desired career. Just another.

I am tired, so excruciatingly tired of being ‘just another’; I want more.

And more is what I will aim for. Because I never want to find myself standing before my advisor as I did today, listening to her words that labeled my aspirations nothing short of impossible, and shooting down every grand career plan I summoned as I humbly held back tears. Never.

I am, and I can – and I will.

Going the distance,
jc

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