What am I doing here?
It’s a question that’s crossed my mind not infrequently in the past year-plus that I’ve been back here at Simpson, and even more so in the past two-plus months. Now, I don’t mean it in the sense of one who might look at his surroundings and think he has ended up in the wrong place; I know I’m where I should be, and am very happy to be so and know so. I mean as one who is coming to the realization that he doesn’t quite know what his goals are.
I’m not speaking simply in an academic sense, either, although that is certainly part of it. With graduation just around the metaphorical corner, it becomes necessary to begin planning for the next chapter of one’s educational/vocational life story. As of right now, the pages of that particular chapter are, for me, utterly and totally blank, and I haven’t the slightest clue of what is going to fill them–which is, I’ll admit, slightly terrifying.
“Expect everything, I always say, and the unexpected never happens.”
I had a fairly good idea of what kind of things to expect from my time here at Simpson. It’s becoming more and more apparent with each passing day, however, that I really had no idea at all. I had a picture of how things would play out for me here, how I would interact with the school and the people in it, and how Simpson would shape me (and, if I may be so bold, how I would help shape it) in my two short years here. Suffice it to say, things have not been going according to plan.
That’s not to say they’ve been going badly. That is not the case at all. Again, I know I’m where I should be, and all the happier for knowing that. But thus far, most of my expectations–if not all of them–for Simpson University, take 2, have gone or appear to be going out the window. Some of my needs and desires are being filled in ways I never expected, and others…well, I wonder if Simpson will be filling them at all.
“The way you see things depends a great deal on where you look at them from.”
Sometimes it’s easy for me to forget about the age gap between me and the majority of Simpson’s student body, even among those in the upper-class levels of their education, i.e. the other seniors. Even though I’ll be graduating from college at the ripe old age of twenty-six, in many ways I still feel like a kid. After all, I am still an undergraduate. Other times (and if I’m honest, probably more often than not), it’s almost impossible for me to forget the age gap.
Because it’s not just an age gap, is it? It is, as a non-Simpson friend of mine, put it, a “life” gap. That’s not to say I think I’ve experienced more in my additional years per se, but that I’ve experienced differently. It’s a simple fact of life that someone who’s attended four straight years of college immediately following high school hasn’t experienced life the same way I have–what with my year-and-a-half of college followed by employment followed by unemployment followed by community college followed by this. It’s been a strange journey indeed.
It’s an isolating feeling sometimes. I haven’t experienced the world the same way as most of my fellow students, and so I know I don’t see the world the same way. I don’t even see myself the same way they might see themselves. What do you do when your very foundations are so radically different from the people around you?
That’s overdramatic. Our foundations aren’t all that different. We’re are all, if I can over-generalize, twenty-something Believers with a capital B, attending a private university in Redding, California; and we presumably know what we’re doing here, and have at least similar educational, vocational, and personal goals. Do we really, though? I can’t help but wonder that sometimes.
“Whatever we learn has a purpose and whatever we do affects everything and everyone else.”
What am I doing here? I wonder how many of my fellow students know the answer to that question. Of course, I know the answer to that question in at least one sense. I’m here to get an education, a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature, and to equip myself to enter the so-called “real” world next spring (or after that, if graduate school proves to be a worthwhile endeavor). Presumably I’ll end up using that degree to get a job somewhat related to it, although I could end up doing something utterly tangential.
But what am I doing here in a personal sense? Sometimes I fear that I don’t know the answer to that question at all. I had an idea of what I wanted to do here personally coming in last fall, but I wonder how much those ideas will go the way of the best-laid plans of mice and men. I wonder to myself sometimes, what if I’m looking for here at Simpson isn’t what I’m expecting? What if it’s not at Simpson at all?
“There is much worth noticing that often escapes the eye.”
Here’s the truth, though: while I’ve spent nearly nine hundred words talking about college, that’s not really what I’m writing about. Simply put, I’m writing about me, and I’m writing about you, Friend. Even though we’ve known each other a while, in may ways we still don’t know each other. At any given time, I find myself intrigued, fascinated, and scared spitless at the thought of opening up to you. What happens if we don’t like what we see?
We’ve had different experiences. Sometimes I feel like I could teach you something, but at other times, I feel like there’s nothing I could teach you. I wonder how often you think about me, and think about you probably more often than you realize. I care for you a great deal, but don’t always know the best way to show it, and wonder if that caring means anything significant. I wonder if and how our story will end. Will we stay in touch? What will happen six months from now? More than that, what will happen tomorrow?
I want to know more about you. You might not know this, given my propensity for…well, being loud…but I’ve always preferred hearing to being heard. I could talk about myself, sure, but I know all there is to know about me (well, not really, but you understand my point). Now I want to know about you. I like hearing about it all, from the most trivial nothings of your day-to-day life to your thoughts on issues of the utmost importance.
I want to get to know you better, become closer with you, but sometimes wonder if I’m up to the task. I know you must have seen things I can’t even imagine. I thought I had an idea of what I was getting into, but it turns out I didn’t have much, if anything, to give you before, when we first met; are things different now? Will they ever be? I know that I have a lot to give, but wonder how much I can give to you.
We have a lot in common–not everything, of course, but enough that I feel like we could be great friends if we worked at it. I have no idea what will come of it, though–sometimes I’m OK with that, and sometimes it’s terrifying. But I think it would be worth the effort.
“What you can do is often simply a matter of what you will do.”
If you’re reading this, and you think it’s about you, you’re right. And if you don’t, well…you’re right, too.