Spinning World: Stop!
As I walk through the memorable Harvard Yard these days, I am over-whelmed by a necessity to reflect. Soon it will be all over. I am a senior with limited days remaining. And although much of me can say that I am ready to move on to the next life, I cannot forget the haunting part of me that is afraid, that is somehow attached to this place which I have called home for more than three years. There are certainly close to six months left to this whole Harvard experience, but as the time ticks away, the reality of the inevitable is beginning to set in: What in the world am I going to do next year?
I have tried the Office of Career Services path, but it has not helped. And as more and more people ask me the question that all seniors hate to hear ("What are you doing next year?"), I don't know if the answer lies in the messy and unorganized binders of OCS. Where does a senior go when he or she doesn't know what the future will hold for him or her? Has it been a problem all along that Harvard has been unable to help myself? I am sure that I am not alone in this struggle to really find out what is inside it all.
And maybe, as the recruiting process dominates the campus, I see that this may not be the path for me and for some reason (actually, I think I know why) I seem to think that there is no other path but that one. I tried to give OCS the chance to show me that there are other respectable paths to follow after June 1997, but I don't think it has done a good job of convincing me that there are.
To be honest, I would love to go into public service for the rest of my life. Having focused much of my attention on that kind of work in my undergraduate years, I feel that community service is where my strengths lie; however, the same cannot be said about money. It is not all about money (or so they say) but when you have $20,000 in loans to pay off after you leave, money all of a sudden takes on an importance that you hoped it never would.
Is it the advising system at Harvard that has seemingly allowed so many students to fall through the cracks of career hunting only to feel alone and incompetent? Well, what can this system really do? Having pretty much failed at helping students all throughout their undergraduate years, it is almost too late for the senior tutor or house advisers to provide some kind of desperate assistance and show you the light. I'm not sure they see their own lights.
Is it a personal defect that I do not know what to do with myself and where I am going? Obviously, I would rather not think that there is something seriously wrong with me. But in some sense, I must lack the ability to make decisions and I must lack some kind of direction in my life. I feel I make decisions too late or at least later than everyone else, and somehow I am punished for it each time.
I have thought about teaching. I have thought about journalism. I have thought about journalism. I have thought about graduate school in anything from English to Slavic studies. But I haven't made any decisions; it's only December and I feel as if I am behind the game completely. Where did all the time go? Why didn't everything happen as I pictured it when I came here? Am I the only one who naïvely believed that I would find my husband, my passion, my career, my strengths, my weaknesses, my everything in college? Oh, maybe it's because this is Harvard, a place seemingly possessing everything, but really providing nothing, no answers, no passions, no real sense of life.
The world needs to slow down. I am not sure that I can catch up with how quickly the tables turn and follow how the ball bounces. As a senior, I am expressing views, fears and beliefs shared by a class, full of some students who don't know what to do and can't imagine what their future holds because they don't know what they want. But the question is really: Whose problem is this and when and how is it going to be fixed?
Nancy Raine Reyes' column appears on alternate Saturdays.