Dear reader, before you proceed,
I think it fair to forewarn
That although my editor did accede
To an idea that was borne
From inspiration by Vikram Seth,
Dr. Seuss (the luminaries
To whom I owe a debt)
The columns of my contemporaries
Might just be a more pleasant read.
As I’m sure you have already perceived
The shackles of convention have been freed
And my audience has been deceived
To hear the unsolicited advice I disburse,
With the help of trusty verse.
But why? You may ask
And you’d be right to question
My enterprise, a convoluted task
Whose only purpose is to break convention
But as you’ll slowly see,
In my proselytizing about taking a chance
I can only buttress my credibility
By taking one myself. You’d look askance
At more advice from an addled teen
About “growing pains,” college life
And experiences of quarantine
If the fruits of my arduous strife
Was more, mere purple prose
Aptly described as simply verbose.
So, what do I mean by taking a chance?
At Yale, I often find myself torn
Between the opportunity to enhance
My ailing LinkedIn and adorn
My professional qualifications,
Using classes and clubs to achieve that goal;
Or laying steady foundations
of an education that will feed the soul.
Medieval history, Sanskrit philosophy and thought
That a pre-med, pre-law, or finance bro
Might not use a lot.
I would counterargue their futility, although,
An opportunity to experiment has been bestowed
Upon us, by our temporary Yalie abode.
If I don’t join a cappella now,
If I forego the cheese tasting society,
In 10 years, I will look back and regret how
I squandered enjoying the variety
That is — in hackneyed terms — the spice
Of life. My inner voice, anxious and fraught
Repeats to me this daily advice:
“Your twinkling teens and twenties ought
To be the days in which,
Through immersion in activities sportive,
You scratch our inherent itch,
To sample life’s offerings; renounce the abortive
Quest to only plan for what lies ahead
Nurture the soul with passion instead.”
Such saccharine sentiments on the tongue are heady
As you ruminate the fairy-tale
Notion of feeding the soul. Instead, you might be ready
To use these four years at Yale
To plan out a path, relatively free
Of impediments, gearing towards a career
That few colleges contemporary
To Yale can engineer
For each student who so chooses
To loot the cultural, intellectual riches
And apply its various uses
To fortify their britches
With alumni contacts, internships. All that’s very well,
since to professional success these undeniably propel.
Who can fairly criticize
A young adult’s budding ambition,
As wide-eyed, we begrudgingly acclimatise
To the gradual, inexorable attrition
Of opportunities for capable
Professionals graduating in hordes,
Captivated by corporate America’s inescapable,
magnetic pull towards
Stable, permanent jobs. It’s a tough world
Out there, and only getting tougher
As you leave college, hurled
Into the hunger games, but rougher.
Especially, for the bulldog who did decide
To put worldly ambition aside.
Then what should one do? As you’d guess, I am wont
To end my aimless prattle
With a recommendation I vaunt
As entirely unoriginal. This battle
For your time, unceasingly extreme
Will undoubtedly deprive you of sleep,
If you dare to dream
That you’ll be able to keep
Your sanity without sacrifice.
A friend told me, each semester do one thing
That you might abandon after trying thrice,
But something new, even arbitrary which will undoubtedly bring
Some respite to a schedule jam-packed
With attempts to bag a professional contract.
If you find one too little, do four, six, eight
Don’t heed the opportunity cost of time
When you’re having fun. You can compensate
For too much enjoyment, by miring yourself in the grime
Of “summer opportunities” that suck you dry,
Turn your break into a hollow shell
Of the rejuvenation that a lazy July
Would unequivocally compel.
Ponder if you’re more likely to regret
Eschewing a course on spirituality and physics
In favour of a class that will whet
Your intuition for more stylised statistics,
One of those might change your worldview,
With the other, more “marketable skills” will accrue.
This piece is my pudding’s proof that I do as I say.
Much to my editor’s lamentation,
Writing an op-ed (a loose term) in verse does convey
(I hope) the spirit of experimentation,
That I so wholeheartedly support
For my fellow peers, friends and foes,
In this matter, I could not purport,
To feed my own soul, if it lay in repose
Shrivelling, oppressed by my attempts to repress
This poetic impulse that has now taken flight.
Even if my piece does not impress,
At least I’ll sleep in peace at night.
I’ll leave you now, in peace to guess,
If I’m grossly wrong or completely right.
PRADZ SAPRE is a first year in Benjamin Franklin college. His column, titled ‘Growing pains,’ runs every other Monday. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.