I’m tired of being a version of myself that still doesn’t know what she wants to do. I plan and plan and plan and commit and rest easy for a while, and then the doubt creeps back in. I’m scared that I’m passing over my own dreams in favor of those that others have for me.
Right now it’s one, or a few, specifically. I’m scared that my commitment to French immersion and an intensive research abroad program came from a place of trying to “do what’s best” for my future, of wanting to impress others, rather than fulfilling something I actually want to do. And those things that I want to do so badly will stay out of reach—maybe forever—if I continue on the track I’ve set myself on now. Studying in Sweden. Trying for a double major in mathematics.
It’s funny, because I’ve spent so much time condemning a certain mindset I see in a lot of my peers in the sciences. It’s the idea that one should minimize their exposure to other subjects as much as possible, to give yourself more time to focus on “what matters”—i.e. whatever branch of science they’ve deemed to be the Most Important, and Greater than the arts, in some twisted fashion. Now here I am, a hypocrite in the works, claiming that my language practice and humanities courses are so representative of my more ~developed~ esteem of the arts, when in reality I feel like I’m taking these classes for the exact same reason they’re avoiding them: to get ahead in my chosen field. I might not be looking into a minor in French or substantial immersion opportunities at all were it not for my advisor sitting down across from me in our first official meeting and saying, “You take French, right? You should look into this program.”
But then I feel like a hypocrite twice over. I love French, and learning languages in general, and I believe that my college is right to have a language requirement; proficiency in a second language is something I consider of high importance. I wouldn’t give up on French even if I were to change my housing and study abroad plans; the class I’ve taken this semester has motivated me to continue on my own. But I would consider taking a semester off from classes. If I don’t, then I won’t get any variety in the classes I take—for the next two years.
Maybe it’s just weekend blues that are making me feel this way, but the fact is that I’ve come into a place of doubt that I’ve never really felt before, and it’s arriving very, very late, only a couple of weeks before I register for next semester’s classes. Next semester! I’m beginning my second year and I’m suddenly full of fear that I’m not doing the right thing after all.
My research advisor tells us that in the next few weeks, “every second” of our free time will be spent trying to wrap up our projects and get a paper drafted with our results. My gut sinks. Am I going to be able to work like that for the rest of my life? Dedicating every ounce of my brainpower to problems that still, for now, seem so far beyond my reach?
I’m looking right now at my neatly laid-out schedule, the literal spreadsheet of my future, everything falling into place so perfectly—and I want to run from it. I want to scrap everything I’ve got and take a mashup of what I “should” and what I “shouldn’t.” Physics, math, yes, sure. Keep one of each and move on. Maybe a linguistics class, or English, or film analysis. I find myself with fingers itching to email the dance department and ask if any of their classes are suitable for those with no background in dance whatsoever. I don’t know what to make of it! I’m just tired! Tired of feeling like I have to be switched on and fully focused every waking moment I have. Tired of feeling like I’m still in high school, where hard science reigned supreme and classes in the arts were avoided—no, denounced. I’m tired of everything I do being for something later in life. Tired of feeling like I’m always competing for an outcome that I don’t even know for sure I want. ♦