I can see the goal post from here. In less then eight months I’m out of this place, and I have some important decisions to make. Where to go. What to do. How to best be self-sufficient.

I think I can answer the first question. I’m not good at making new friends. With a few exceptions, it takes a long time before I feel really comfortable with people. I don’t want to strike out to lands unknown where I will be completely alone. I know people will disperse after college, but I have at least a few good friends in the Boston area, so I probably want to stick around here.

It would be easier if I had some major ambition. If I wanted to go to law school, or enter politics, or whatever, then my path would be a bit more clear. But I don’t have any clue what I want. I want to be happy, but the hows and wheres and whats are all up in the air right now. I don’t have any anchors holding me back, but at the same time there is no wind pushing me in one direction or another. It’s just vast, calm seas all around. Only — to stretch this metaphor even more — I can feel a monsoon approaching. If I don’t start making choices, I’ll be stuck in a situation I hate.

When I started writing, I thought it was going to be about student government. About how I’ve lost my commitment to it, to making Brandeis better, because my perspective is shifting. I didn’t apply to serve on any University committees, because I realized that I don’t much care about working with people in IT or Dining Services or whatever. I’m not enthusiastic about big projects. I’m not so worried about chilling with administrators.

I was starting to feel bad about this, but then Kevin told me that, even now, my level of commitment to the Student Union is higher then a good majority of the other officers. He’s right, and so I don’t feel bad. I could be doing more for my constituants, the students of Brandeis, but I’m not sure the students really care, or will notice.

I don’t want to be in student affairs. I don’t want to be a politician. I don’t want to be in marketing or sales or customer support. I don’t want to be a wrestler. Well, that doesn’t really narrow it down much.

I’m focusing on my academics, and trying to get good grades, but I’m not really sure why, because I’m not sure if a 3.3 is markedly better then a 3.1, especially if I don’t know what I’m going to be doing with it. American Studies? What is that, anyway?

Today I got asked a bunch of questions about what kind of Legal Studies internship I wanted, and they focused a lot on my skills and what I’m good at and what I want to do with my life. Man, that was hard. The real interviews will be a lot harder. My interviewer kept telling me to stop being so vague. Through our explorations we discovered that I’m good at editing. Maybe I should work for a newspaper after all.

I dunno. I don’t have a conclusion to this entry, because I don’t have any answers yet. I guess it is just something to continue to ponder.

Advice? Something better then “it’ll all work out?”

5 replies on “Commitment”

  1. Well, to a certain extent I wouldn’t be too worried about you because you’re one of the few people that really get things done. That makes you incredibly valuable when compared with the average person who talks about doing stuff.

    It can be a problem to not have any direction. I know the feeling. Frankly, and you can correct me if I’m completely wrong on this, you seem like someone that just likes helping people. You see a situation where people need something that your skill-set can help with and you do it. Of course, it does make choosing a direction difficult. Probably worse is that most of the jobs where you are supposed to be helping people turn more towards political bickering, wrangling and the like.

    You have some of the best experience of anyone I know and you’re probably the most employable person I know too. You created Boogle. You designed a very complex layout for the ITS website all in CSS. You are able to do both asthetic design and coding. I feel that there must be millions of places where you are needed.

    I’m sure you will do amazing in life just as you have at Brandeis.

  2. My opinions probably aren’t wanted, but whatever, that’s never stopped me before, so here goes.

    Welcome to senior year of college. You’re 21, you’re not supposed to know what you want to do with your life (unless you live in some European countries and have to decide during high school). 95% of your class feels the same way you do. Most of my class still feels that way.

    Here’s the good news: What you do next year has no bearing on what you for your whole life. If it did, I would be heading down a neuroradiology career path, and trust me, I’m not. But companies have these great things called ‘entry level jobs’ designed for people in your (and your classmates, and my) position. For a reasonably small amount of money (for them) they get a motivated, intelligent, capapble (all of which you are) college graduate to do, basically, their scut work. You get a job that pays the rent and the DSL bills and a chance to live in the real world and figure out what you want to do. That’s how I learned that while there’s no chance in hell I want to be a neuroradiologist (not a shock to most people), this whole research thing is pretty cool.

    When you go to actual interviews, it’s ok to let them know some of your reasons for taking the job. They expect it, though a reasonable amount of actual or feigned interest in the general field is helpful.

    Your committment to Brandeis still seems pretty high, but it’s ok if you feel it start to fall. It makes graduating easier for you and for the next class, who can learn from your leadership and experience even if you take a smaller role than in the past. And I agree with what Kevin says as well; your uncommitted phase is a lot more dedicated than most people’s committed phase. But you’ve done a lot for the school, and there’s no harm in taking a smaller role this year.

    And it all will work, but maybe – probably – not immediately. It might mean having a job that doesn’t inspire you or living with rodent as well as human companions for a few years. And that’s ok, because eventually you will find your ambition, or your ambition will find you.

  3. I normally shun the idea of writing lengthy postings to blogs, but I think I’ll take Danny up on the offer to provide feedback regarding his current seemingly directionless state.

    First, commencement (or graduation) isn’t until May…and a lot of things can happen between October and May. I realize that sounds cliche but last October I was about to take the LSAT, and today I’m enrolled in a graduate program at a school I hadn’t even heard of last October.

    In December, I officially decided I didn’t want to be at law school…and over coffee with a friend from high school, my girlfriend, and my mom, I made the decision that I wanted to be in higher ed. (I don’t actually drink coffee, but I was having a croissant.)

    Life plans have a funny way of working out – and sometimes it’s enjoyable. That’s not to say “everything will be okay” but more to say: Danny, really do enjoy the ride – it’s kinda fun sometimes. As you may remember, as of tax day last year the only thing that was certain was that I was getting a $500 refund. I had not yet applied to graduate school, and I had no summer plans. On May 24th, I would effectively stop having anything to do.

    In late April, I applied for internships and summer jobs in the Washington, DC area despite the advice from everyone I talked to that I should simply look at Kinko’s, Barnes and Noble, and maybe some museum gift shops. Everything, I was told, would be taken by then.

    A couple weeks later, my graduate school application was completed (several months past the normal February submission, though with a “rolling” deadline). Three days before I was to graduate I learned of my summer employment at a national conservation organization that had nothing to do with what I later learned was my field of focus.

    My summer experience taught me a lot of things: a) you probably won’t in an environment where, 24 hours a day, people know your name, call you on the phone, and want to interact with you, after you graduate; b) you may have to start at the bottom and do work you never would’ve thought of; c) you might unexpectedly find some brilliant colleagues and make some great memories along the way.

    As for (A) above, it simply means that you need to find a few people you’re really happy being around and take proactive steps to be around them… But there isn’t anything wrong with having an apartment of your own, leaving work at 5pm, and having no one call you until the next morning.

    As for finding what you want to do: there’s a Brandeis 2001 alum who graduated having no idea what he was going to do. A congressional intern the summer before, he went to work in an entry-level job in the office of a House member. Seeing this person’s competence, poise, and ability to get any job done under pressure, at least three other entities have sought his help and talent – most recently, placing him in a relatively high position in John Kerry’s campaign.

    So, my advice to you…while trying to stay away from “everything works out”…is that it sounds like you have two options: a) play it by ear, know where you want to be, and whom you want to see, and enjoy the ride…..or…..b) take some steps to steer yourself in a direction that you find appealing, a place where your talents might be most useful, etc…..but either way, try to find out what might make you happy right now, keep reassessing that happiness, and follow it somewhere down the line.

    I would also use your internship as a way to see if it’s something you like doing…or go over to CNC and see if you’d like working on a newspaper…

    Be prepared: everything might not work out in a way that makes sense – you might have to ask a friend for help, do a job you hate, etc., but find a way to wake up every day and find something fun to do – because it’s the little moments of fun that make life worth living…..and sometimes the planned stuff – like going to law school, or having a certain job – isn’t that much fun anyway.

  4. In reading your comments I think back to that same time in my life. I thought I wanted to do something entirely different than I ended up doing. I tried various directions and career paths and eventually found my way. I ended up structuring my job so that it included things I really enjoyed (mentoring others, travel, etc.) When I think of my friends and their career choices I know very few who ended up with the career that their education would have directed them towards.

    Just let your interests take you where you want to go and you will succeed. You are very talented and gifted and I know you will figure it all out. Take your time, travel life life, and enjoy the ride.

  5. I think you are enormously talented. Specifically, I think you are one of the better writers among the students I read. It doesn’t surprise me that you are a good editor–you seem to have a love of and respect for the language.

    And then again, maybe you and Adam B. could go into business and take over the world.

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