Uncertainty & Finitude


When I arrived at college, the thing that scared me most was endings. This is ironic, because starting school is a beginning. I wasn’t scared of MIT ending, or of my adulthood beginning, or anything like that. The endings of phases of my life don’t really bother me— I certainly felt little pain over leaving high school. I worry about relationships ending.

I have always had this worry. My grandmother was the center of my universe when I was a child, and her mortality was self-apparent. I remember when it sunk in that my parents were mortal. I never had to have that realization about my grandmother. It was always there. Of course, most relationships don’t end when someone dies— the majority just end in a sort of painless drift. Nonetheless, it seems as though close relationships come with an associated cost in pain when things end. This felt especially salient during the last chapters of high school. I held on to few friends for the entire ride, and on more than one occasion I found myself abruptly going from being close with someone to having no contact with them. I got to MIT alarmed at (what looked like to me) the path of destruction I had left in my wake and uncertain what it indicated for my future.

Now, though, I worry more about what I’m going to do with my life. I went to college fairly sure I was going to go to med school, and then hated the culture around the whole thing, couldn’t stomach the thought of another four years spent jumping through hoops, and realized that while I’d still love to be a doctor, I don’t want to be a premed. But if I can’t be a doctor, I’m not sure what I want to do. At all. I’m used to optimizing my decisions to fit a goal. Without a goal, I have no way to figure out if I’m doing the right thing. And that scares the shit out of me. To some extent, I wonder if I’m trying to pick up a second major just to decrease the amount of unrestricted decisions I have to make. Especially at MIT, I’m surrounded by competitive, ambitious people, and I feel like my current aimlessness can’t measure up. The situation is ugly, folks*.

Anyway, as I finish my third semester in college, I’m amused by the fact that I’ve exchanged finitude for uncertainty as the thing that scares me most. I used to be unhappy because I was sure that all my friendships would end, and badly, but now I’m unhappy because I’m not sure about anything. Well, I guess I’m still sure relationships end, but I guess I’m a little less scared of it, as it seems to be okay. And they seem to be worth it in the interim.

Hopefully maybe my future will seem to be okay in another three semesters and I’ll find some other variation on the theme life’s predictability to fear?

img_3306As a reward for reading my thoughts, please enjoy a pretty picture. In late summer, I took a trip with my former roommate, Emma, to her aunt’s place in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts. This is the Shelburne Falls Bridge of Flowers. It relates to the topic of this post because something something life is a path something something.

*Please, no comments that everything will be ok! or I just need to try things! or most people don’t know what they want to do!… none of that is as comforting as people seem to think it is

P.S. Another blog post after another long period of silence! Maybe it’ll just be one blog post a semester… it’s unclear I have anything worth writing about more often than that anyway 😉


One thought on “Uncertainty & Finitude

  1. One of my students just wrote, “What stands between me and my future is fear and confusion. For the past year or so I thought I had life figured out. I thought I knew my major and my dream job. Now I’m second guessing myself. Every day I’m changing as a person and becoming who I’m ultimately meant to be. It’s terrifying to me because being unsure about what you’re supposed to be makes you feel powerless and like you’re not in control.” Does this sound like what you are experiencing?

    I knew quite a while ago that being a doc was not for you because you expressed ZERO interest in the human body’s structure and workings. No curiosity there in healing other people’s bodies. But it surely sounded great to tell one’s parents! It gave them more parental bragging material….

    One distinction you need to consider is that there is (1) the need to financially support oneself by having a job that pays enough for the lifestyle you want, and (2) working in an occupation that you find fulfilling and pays enough for the lifestyle you want. I don’t think you want to be financially supported by your parents! And most often that the jobs one finds early in a career are not that fulfilling. But they pay the bills and serve as steps upward.

    Does MIT offer career interest testing? Robbie took a bunch of tests at Washburn. They provided a starting point for further discussion.

    I surely wish you would come to Topeka for part of your semester break.


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