by Mikey Jakubowski
I’m sitting in the library on my laptop emailing a multitude of professors and deans, coffee dripping on me with every mouthful. I’ve been on the verge of tears all day, forcing myself to stay as busy as humanly possible; any minute I spend on breathing takes time away from figuring out my life, every detail, goal and step, all from my little corner of the university. As my mother continues to remind me, I am trying to answer question number 10 before I even answer question number 1.
If I know the answer to 10, I’ll know the answer to 1, right?
Earlier I got out of class, rushed to the quad, and called my mom, the most accessible number on my phone. I couldn’t handle it anymore: Yesterday I was dead set on switching to a completely different major, and today I am doubting my choices, sure again that my original major is what’s best for me. Follow your gut, I tell myself lately, but my gut is all over the place, and I only have so much energy to hold it still. There is no major at my university that allows for the various array of passions I have: Music, photography, film, modern languages, massage therapy, entrepreneurship, journalism, creative writing, botany… The list goes on. But I try to make it happen anyway. I try to do it all, and I try to throw graduating a year early into the mix. Without even meaning to, I convince myself that my college career defines my life.
I am woken from my weird personal-problems-computer-coffee fixation: There is a person walking towards me. They are red in the face and they something to me like, “Hi, I’m sorry, you probably will think this is creepy, but I was in the quad earlier and I heard you on the phone…”
Oh no. I’ve ruined my cover. Someone other than my mother has discovered my secret self-deprecating issues (“secret” heh).
“…and I thought I’d just share that my friend was a theater major, almost finished her degree, and now studies Spanish at a new school, and she loves it. She was an intern translator over the summer and fell in love, decided she wanted to change her theater major to a minor and her Spanish minor to a major.”
I am immediately humbled and, yet again, on the verge of tears. The simple act of reaching out to me to make me feel better completely trumps my embarrassment of being overheard in the quad. I am speechless while they talk but finally find the right words: “Thank you.” After we introduce ourselves and I explain my dilemma a little more, she tells me she is the same kind of person, the kind of person whose passions outweigh the possibilities, the kind of person who is all over the place, who is ambidextrous and always switching which hand they use to write.
She explains that she has transferred multiple times and switched her major even more, but she is here and she is studying what she loves and then she’ll graduate and she’ll do what she loves, undeterred by the amount of times she has made and remade up her mind.
“My sister lives in New York and works in a museum. I don’t get to see her much, but she gave me some of the best advice I’ve been given, that people don’t care what you studied in college. They care that you have a degree, that you have experience, that you have passion and ideas to contribute. Don’t worry if you’re doing the right thing, studying the right thing; study what you want. You’re going to get where you’re going.”
My parents have said it a thousand times before (“Trust the process,” my mom always says to me), and I’ve trusted them, but there’s something special in hearing it from someone you’ve never talked to before, someone you may never talk to again. This stranger had heard me in the quad and felt the need to share a little piece of love, of clarity, birthed from the same confusion and struggling she had gone through. There’s something to be said about the issues we all try to handle, and it’s that we’re all having them. It’s that, like my parents and this stranger have tried to tell me, there’s no use in stressing over the parts of your life you have not yet lived.
Accept the anonymity of your future. Welcome it, envelop it. You will be quick to find that the wonder of it all, the sheer amount of lives you could live, will always outweigh the fear.