Out Loud: The train

Courtesy of Kresmir Juraga
This week, Katie considers the future.


Being a college student, one of the first things that I find myself discussing when I meet another student is the future.

“What’s your major,” we ask each other. “What do you plan on doing with that?”

More often than not the first question has a tangible answer, and second elicits a nervous laugh and an “I’m not sure yet” or a vague “Something that lets me travel” type response.

Very few people can actually answer, with certainty, where we see ourselves in the years ahead.

Upon arriving on campus, we’ve poured countless hours into schoolwork, clubs and volunteering. We’ve forgone nights of sleep, meals and arguably our sanity.

We make all of these sacrifices for what?

With the exception of those on pre-professional tracks, most of us aren’t sure exactly what the end goal is for all of this work.

I, and many people I know, have questioned the purpose of the years that we give toward this foggy goal. It feels like we’re on a train careening faster and faster toward a destination that, as far as we know, is as likely to be a cement wall as it is to be a utopia.

This is a terrifying thought. The uncertainty leaves us feeling insecure and anxious when we think about what lies ahead.

Maybe we shouldn’t be scared though.

Maybe instead of focusing so hard on five, ten even twenty years into our unknown futures, we should take what we do know and use it to focus on our present.

What we do know is that in a perfect world, hard work pays off. We know that in the long run what we do now will affect how successful we are in the future, whatever our definition of success may be.

What we do know is that we are arguably in the prime of our lives.

We know we’re young, but old enough to have a large degree of freedom. We’re independent and forging our own lives separate from those of our parents, yet most of us have yet to worry about paying bills beyond our monthly apartment utilities.

What we do know is that we have four years, give or take a semester, to grow up and learn who we are going to be as adult members of society.

Let’s not panic because we don’t have perfect lifelong careers picked out.

Let’s instead take each day as it comes, striving to do our best in what we’ve chosen to involve ourselves in, striving to enjoy the time we have with the friends we’ve made because soon we’re going to be real adults with real adult responsibilities and commitments and things are going to change.

We can’t predict the future — if we could, the fun of daydreaming about its mystery would be lost.

All we can do is work as hard as we can, play as hard as we can when time allows and enjoy the ride.

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