Lately you might have noticed several people wandering around campus with a blank stare casting from their bemused eyes, their lifeless bodies droning like phantoms from class to class, their faces radiating a general sense of malaise. No, these are not tragic, pretentious theater studies majors taking themselves too seriously. These are seniors who have no clue what they are doing next year.
For those of you who are not seniors, it’s a difficult feeling to understand. Around mid-August, your older friends who graduated in May start inundating you with sleep-deprived, vocational horror stories, admonishing you to “enjoy college while it lasts,” “take advantage of your free time,” and “stop calling my little sister”. Then you start contemplating your own future, and you’re struck with a panic attack.
“Oh my God,” you say to yourself suddenly, while buying scented candles in Origins. “I too must get a job this year.”
It’s at this epiphany when I decided I wouldn’t realize my childhood aspiration of being the half-man, half-dinosaur ninja-assassin president of the United States because of the constitutional age requirement, so I opted to consult the beacons of strength and perspicuity in my life; I called my parents.
They weren’t home. And I still needed advice, so I moved on to the next logical step. I attempted to summon my dead grandfather from beyond the grave. So I went to the most mysterious and occult place in New Haven, a place the frightened locals refer to only as “Alchemy”, toting a Ouija Board and copy of my resume. I was attacked immediately.
With newfound determination and massive internal bleeding, I then attended various colloquiums regarding investment banking, and after careful consideration, I concluded that I’d rather be placed in traction than whore my youth to men who are more likely to freebase Rogaine and Prozac than to provide me with any salient direction relevant to my ultimate interests.
Finally, however, advice began trickling in regarding the uncertain future from friends and campus affiliations. I will never cease to find it fascinating how everyone becomes a quasi-motivational speaker when you ask them for advice regarding the future, so willing to recall their own mishaps and regurgitate every aphorism they’ve ever heard. But I chose to totally ignore their banalities of “follow your dreams,” “go for it,” and “don’t look directly at the sun” as obvious lip service to the exuberance of youth.
There is one commonality in all the advice I get from those chronologically above me. They all refer to post-college life as the abstraction “the Real World”. Now I realized in comparison, college is like Fantasy Camp, but it’s so annoying the way they sententiously bloviate about the “Real World” like an old military man recalling the beaches of Normandy.
“Fun? Ha!” they chortle.
“Wait ’til ya get to the real world!” they scream, as they unlatch their prosthetic legs and start metaphorically bludgeoning you with the tenets of capitalism.
This terse pessimism about post-college life depresses me.
It makes me think that as soon as I get handed my diploma in May, the world turns into a silent German Expressionist movie, where the sky turns gray, the trees lose their leaves, and everyone begins wearing the same black suit and holding the same black briefcase, like mass-produced test dummies of the Iron Cage monotonously lulling through life, then scratching each other’s eyes out for money and power like lab rats fighting for cocaine.
OK, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but the prospect of leaving the cocoon of college, and especially a place like Yale, is slightly disconcerting. It’s a good thing we even have a functioning economic system that provides us with structure at all; I shouldn’t be complaining.
But still, if you happen to see someone walking down the street, mumbling to themselves, convulsing and yelling at mailboxes, stay away from him — he has a chemical imbalance and is completely insane. But if you see one of these poor souls, seniors sans jobs, give him all the money you have on you and wish him luck next year.
John Phillips is a senior in Saybrook College.