How does a college senior plan for the future in a world on fire?
As one myself, I like to think most college seniors have a moment when they doubt their plan. For most of my life, I have had at least one aspect of my future figured out: I was going to live abroad. I’ve always fit the stereotype of a small-town girl looking for a whole new world. Since I can remember I wanted to see more of the world so I could better understand the people in it. But instead of having a moment of doubt, I’ve had years of it.
I made a plan to study abroad as soon as possible so I could get used to living in a foreign country. January of 2020 I packed my bags for a semester in Leipzig, Germany and I finally started to believe that my dream was achievable. I could live and learn and love in a foreign country. Then, halfway through my “life-changing journey,” the world shut down and I was pulled away from the home I found.
People like to remind me how lucky I was to have those few months and believe me, I know. I understand how incredibly privileged I was to have that opportunity in the first place and anytime I started to think about the home I lost I took solace in the fact that I was going back. No matter what it took I was going to reclaim my home and see more of the world.
It’s two years later and I’m sitting in my final 8 a.m. class of college. It’s easy to push certain problems to the back of my mind and just enjoy a debate on the first amendment. I can believe that my plan is still on track, that everything is going to be fine once I get that diploma. But you can’t ignore the world for long. Between classes, there are moments where the monotonous haze of education is lifted as we gather around the TV scattered throughout the building and listen to the latest news.
“Protestor shot by police.”
“Capitol rioter apprehended.”
“COVID-19 deaths exceed 400 million.”
“Fear of war grips Europe but in other news Kim K and Pete Davidson are official!”
As a college senior no one will ask you how you feel about your stance on current events, government policies or global politics. Those are topics for people that have life experience.
Instead, they ask questions like what do you plan to do with your degree? Do you have a job yet? Where do you see yourself in two years?
I just want to scream and point at the news. I want to tell them that in two years it’s very possible that I will be mourning my friends who died from a disease that no one understands or a war that we have no say in. I want to tell them that sometimes I can’t find the point in planning for a future when the world is on fire. But that seems a bit too much, even for me. So instead I give the practiced response- a small shrug and nervous smile while I say “I’ll figure it out”.
Because that’s our job right? To figure it out. Sacrifice a bit of our dreams for now, attempt to fix the problems we inherited and cause as little harm as possible along the way. At the end of the day, the world might be falling apart, but we don’t have that luxury. So take a breath, count to ten and use this as an excuse to try to do something crazy.