A 20-Year-Old Senior Citizen

This year, I’m in limbo.

While it might appear that I’ve got all my ducks in a row – perhaps due to the new back to school watch on my left wrist, signaling that I always know the time – this honestly couldn’t be further from the truth.

To break it down for you, my watch is a “fashion watch.” Don’t fret if you don’t know the terminology because I just made it up to justify the fact that my watch, an object generally used for a utilitarian purpose, doesn’t tell time correctly. I learned this the hard way as I ran to class realizing that being early in fashion watch time meant being late in the time zone known as reality. Discount shopping is always hit or miss. 

Beyond my inability to tell time despite my new (fashion) watch, I have found myself already stumped by two questions presented to me in my classes. No, I wasn’t being asked the quadratic formula or in what year Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Nor was I asked who wrote “The Great Transformation” or what the scientific method is. The two daunting questions were as follows:

 1.)   What year in school are you?
 2.)   What do you want to do once you graduate? 

Clearly off to a great start in my classes, I “errr”ed and “umm”ed my way through my responses with the grace only a 20 year old millennial with a fashion watch that falsifies time can exhibit.

I acquiesce when professors make you introduce yourself to the class. It’s awkward as everyone digs around in the back of their minds for something remotely interesting about themselves. When put on the spot like that, I usually lie. Not on purpose, of course. But before I know it, my nonexistent skydiving experience leaves my mouth like hot lava spewing out of a volcano; unstoppable, unforgivable and dangerous.

As college credit from high school has saved me money, which I am very thankful for, I question if I am appreciative of the time it’s saving me. I’m a third year student at DePaul, but am set to graduate after next fall quarter (or possibly sooner). An odd time to enter the workforce and an odd situation to explain to a classroom full of people whom I’ve just met; hence, my confusion at the question, “What year in school are you?” As I debated being a junior or senior out loud to all of my peers and professor, I realized that I so don’t have it all together.

And then comes the second question, aka THE question that parents, coworkers, aunts, uncles and everyone else under the sun loves to ask young college students. I envy the people who explain detail for detail what they will do with the rest of their lives with a sense of precision and confidence that is reserved for talk show hosts like Oprah and Katie Couric.

Unfortunately, for me, my class was full of Oprahs and included a sprinkling of Courics. As my classmates described their aspirations to become lawyers and campaign organizers, policy makers and non-profit leaders, my fashion watch and I didn’t stand a chance. So we searched around for something exciting that might have been a stretch of the truth.

Instead, under the immense pressure of the question and the embarrassment of the preceding one, we said, “I’m just taking it day by day really. Trying to survive.” As I described my future as if I had a terminal illness, my professor gave me a half smile, pitying me and saying, “It’s okay. You’ll figure it out.” It was clear that school was back in session.

So here I am, buckling up for the long journey ahead and knowing that each step forward, or backward, at least means I’m moving.

Excited for the year ahead yet? I know I am. Just don’t ask me my year in school or what my future career is. Especially, don’t ask me the time.

 
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