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Lost in Jumboland

Opinion | September 20, 2010

Let me introduce myself: My name is Eric. I’m a sophomore. I like soccer and Arrested Development. I actually enjoy books. And I have no plans: no plans for summer, no plans for a semester abroad, no plans for much of anything. It’s not that I didn’t, at one time, have plans to have plans. I had plans to have a lot of plans. I had plans to have plans to go abroad next year. I had plans to have plans to have a really cool internship this summer. I had plans to have plans to do a lot of things. But, as of now, no plans.

My problem came last year as a freshman when I realized that being a college student doesn’t automatically mean that you’ve figured anything out regarding what you want to do for the rest of your life, or what kind of person you want to be, or with what kind of people you wish to surround yourself. No one had told me that these things wouldn’t be handed to me by a jovial Lawrence Bacow September 1st, 2009, along with a pamphlet for “In the Sack” and a smile. I don’t think—and by that I mean that I desperately, desperately hope—that I’m the only person to feel this way during my first few semesters at college. I don’t believe that I was alone in assuming that at a certain age we would suddenly all know what’s right and what’s wrong and that at a certain point in our lives we would stop being awkward around the opposite sex and that everything would just sort of fall into place. Who knows, maybe those times do exist somewhere ahead of us, but those times are certainly not during the four (or more) years of college that most of us blindly, and often drunkenly, stumble through.

I’m not saying that I haven’t gotten anything out of my Tufts experiences thus far. Far from it. I have changed in countless ways since coming to Medford from Denver, Colorado a little over one year ago. I’ve been naked in public more times than most people would like to see me naked in public, I’ve taken some amazing, and certainly, some not-so-amazing classes. I’ve been on the library roof on the Twentieth of April. I’ve stayed up all night with people that I’ve just met. I’ve hidden from the swiper ladies in Carmichael after they realized I turned their dining hall into Barmichael.  But, as I realized in a sweaty panic the night before classes started this semester, I don’t feel closer to becoming a real person than I did a year ago at this time. I still feel nervous about classes. I still feel awkward in a room full of people I don’t know. I don’t have grandiose plans for my future self. The only thing I seem to have figured out in college is what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life—a list that continues to grow, while the list of potential lifelong passions has not seen much growth as of late.

So here I am: a sophomore with a bunch of free t-shirts, memories and a few ideas about what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life. No major. No career path. Somebody suggested I go into plastics.

It doesn’t seem like a lot. But, maybe, I don’t need a lot right now.  Maybe I don’t need to plan my entire life right now, as a nineteen-year-old who still buys books on his parents’ credit card and moves all plans aside to catch the newest episode of “The Office.” Maybe it’s a good thing that I’ve used my time at Tufts to experience life and try new, non-résumé-building things. Maybe the best use of my time right now is to sit on the President’s Lawn with some friends and start thinking about what it is that I might want to do tomorrow. And then maybe I’ll think about next week. Maybe next week I’ll think about what I’ll do over spring break. Maybe one day I’ll come across something that I won’t ever want to stop doing. Maybe a class will change my life, or maybe I’ll continue to go through college without a firm idea about what it is I want to do. Maybe I won’t know until I’m 25. Or 30. Right now I don’t know what I’ll do with the rest of my life, and that’s beginning to be okay.  If you have any suggestions for me, come talk to me; I don’t have any plans.