Monday, March 26, 2012

Le Subjonctif

Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could spend time with my college friends in a non-college setting. Unlike my friends at home, I always seem to be hanging out with all of the great people I know here with a little bit of my mind distracted by the thought of how much work I'm putting off. Simply by enjoying their company, I'm also destroying my own study time. It's a win-lose situation that is always bugging me.

This became especially relevant today as I had a Long Serious Talk with my friend Dana and then with my friend Denise about how fleeting our time at college is and how soon enough we'll be hoisted out into the real world, possibly without the assurance of jobs or a place to live or money. Oh goodness, money.

I've spent much of my time at college trying to avoid reminding myself that once I graduate I won't have the security of the future being the future. While I sit here in my dorm room, everything is all in le subjonctif (to be arrogant and French). That is to say that the condition of our lives is in flux, it is uncertain. I don't have to worry so much because final decisions are still a while away.

But in reality I'm already about halfway through my college experience - even more if I consider that I might be graduating early and leaving even earlier to go on my journalism residency. My time is limited and I'm already counting the weeks, the days, the hours. And it's not a pleasant countdown.

No matter what complaining I do about the sheer amount of work I have required of me here at school, I'm not even considering the great work that will have to be done once I leave school. Instead of getting up at 10 am, having a leisurely breakfast and going to class at noon, I will be waking up at 7 am and taking public transportation to work by 8 or 9 am. And that's if I even have work. Or money for the public transportation toll.

Right now all I have to complain about is the fact that when I'm hanging out with friends my mind is constantly elsewhere. I'm extended in so many ways. Yet I forget that I also have the comfort of pretty low expectations for myself.

All that I'm truly required to do is to get decent grades and uphold my responsibilities. There's no apartment rent that I have to keep up with, no grocery bill I have to pay, no house to keep clean, no dinner to cook. Most of what I have going on is figured out for me.

Is the problem that I'm just not grateful?

No, I don't think so.

Before the last few weeks, my real problem was that I didn't have enough foresight to think about the future in realistic terms. Because it all seemed like a far off fantasy to me, I didn't worry about the inevitable worries that accompany graduation.

Instead I didn't put things in perspective and I continually complained about the little things that hound me now.

I did the same thing back in middle school and high school. When I came home from class every day, the goal was always to get through assignments and homework quickly and efficiently. It was all towards a higher goal. No matter the stress, I would make it to college.

As the years went on, my conviction stuck, even increased. But if it did grow, then it did so in conjunction with my personal distress. I became so overloaded with work and stress that I became a homework-doing, reading-skipping machine. I organized my time around naps to prevent tension from building up, and any other time I spent reading 40 pages of Charles Dickens or ten pages (I couldn't go further than that) of my Biology textbook. But I was just inches away from losing my sanity.

In college I face a similar dilemma. With the constant terror of looming quizzes and tests and papers and reading assignments hovering overhead, I can't get rid of my own dissatisfaction with life, even in my own current, privileged station.

I forget that in the future, I won't have the comfort of less than 20 hours of class a week. Once I enter the job market, I will still have homework assignments in the form of articles to write. I will still have the responsibility to go to bed at a reasonable hour to be up and ready to go early in the morning. All of these trials will still be in place, but one luxury - the luxury of being hopeful and ambitious - will slowly fade away.

It makes me think to myself that for once in my life, I have absolutely no right to complain. Even when things don't go my way, I have such a wonderful life in college that I should never take a moment of it for granted.

I'm starting a new quarter today, both in school and in life. At university, I am beginning new classes with all new problems to face and obstacles to overcome. In my own personal matters, I am turning over a new leaf - one that survives on the notion that things now are truly better than they have ever been and ever will be. Even if there are improvements in the future, thinking in optimistic terms of the present is the only way to find real life happiness.

I am so lucky to be who, where and when I am. Even if the subjonctif is gone, at least I have le présent de l'indicatif (the present tense). That's enough for now, even if I may not know what l'avenir (the future) holds.

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