For the Directionless Graduate

Sanctus Real – I Want to Get Lost (Acoustic)

Being about to graduate from college has the undesirable effect of magnifying every insecurity about my future life that has been dormant (or active) these past three years. I am starting to realize just how common a general feeling of “lostness” is for the many students leaving college… save for the ones who have been pre-professional from day one and now have jobs lined up in June. Those of us who defiantly refused to focus on “career prospects” during college ( and were perhaps a little too lulled into the liberal-arts-education ethos!) now look around with undeniable envy at the students walking around in suits, heading off to job interviews this fall. But, despite this future-malaise, I have hope.

You see, my fear was always of getting stuck in a position of success. While this might seem counter-intuitive, what I mean is that my fear was not of succeeding in general, but in succeeding in a field that I hated, and not having the courage to leave a position of security for the more nebulous route of following my “passions.” (I sense the scoffs of the gainfully employed.) Passions are not always profitable, but what else are one’s 20’s for, anyways?

If you are a humanities major feeling lost, the safest bet might seem like applying to law school. But one should apply to law school because one loves law, not because one has no concrete plans for the rest of one’s life! (Which is a long time I might add!) At the end of a semester, a wonderful professor of mine reminded our class of aspiring writers of the obvious: you only get one shot at life! Do you want to spend it doing something you love? Try before consigning yourself to a life of your personal version of mediocrity. And if all else fails after a few years, and you are wallowing somewhere in a miserably obscure and joyless job, then ok, ok, apply to law school already. At least you tried. Unfortunately, people who hold dreams sacredly close to their heart will sometimes decide it is better not to find out if one will “make it” to avoid shattering the dream. This is nothing short of the most shameful sort of cowardice, to which I fall prey 50% of my waking hours.

And so I end with the song posted at the beginning. “I Want to Get Lost” is the title, and although it might sound like it applies to the starry-eyed freshmen who start their college careers off in comparative literature seminars and Russian language classes and end them in English literature and Russian culture classes (i.e., me), the lyrics are far more purposeful. In case you are unfamiliar with Sanctus Real, it is a Christian band. And so, I interpret with confidence that the song refers to getting lost in the infinite and Almighty God of the Universe. What this means for each person looks a little different, but I would wager that getting lost in God is a far more mysteriously wonderful experience than feeling lost by oneself at the end of college, feeling as though everyone else has things figured out and I should probably get an LSAT prep-book because I have a degree that prepares me for everything but nothing and my parents are getting concerned that I am going nowhere in life… Ok ok, stop hyper-ventilating (yes, I say this to myself in actuality). God is not worried about my future. He is not looking over my resumé and wondering why I took Ancient Greek instead of getting an internship last summer. And I can be assured that if I get lost in Him, He will not lose me. Besides, He is the God who goes looking for His one lost sheep, when the other ninety-nine are safe in the sheep pen!

 

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The Myth of the Super-Person

Have you seen the news? There is a new breed of Homo Sapiens out there saving the world, climbing mountains, reading Rimbaud and solving physics problems at the same time, and mastering obscure foreign tongues, all in a day’s work. Do you believe it? Neither do I.

I read an op-ed today in the NYTimes called Super People. If you haven’t read it already, I highly recommend you do. While there is plenty of truth to the article, I find the idea of the so-called “super-person” grossly exaggerated. While students may be learning more broadly and going on more service-oriented cross-cultural trips, I think nowadays we give credit to people far too easily. Yes, it is more difficult to gain admission to elite schools, and yes, there is a resume-building game to play for those eager to get to the top, but we are kidding ourselves if we think someone is a “super-human” just because they have a knack for filling up a resumé.

My questions are, do these people have deep friendships or a coterie of awed admirers? Have they ever forsaken romance for achievements? When they help people, what motivates them at a deep level? Would they go on “service-learning” trips if there were a no-resumé listing rule? How often do they really go mountain climbing anyways? I personally think we have a tendency to incorporate things into our identity a bit too quickly, and that helping build a school in another country one summer means something totally different from devoting one’s entire career to the building of schools in needy places. I suppose I’d prefer to wait, oh, until the end of a super-person’s life, and then see if they did anything meaningful or lasting in the world, or if they are merely more motivated versions of the rest of us. Looking at the success of their marriages and family lives wouldn’t hurt either.