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October 15, 2012 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

End of the Line

Reflections of a once-upon-a-time fresher

As university draws to a close, as it is inclined to do, you may find yourself in the same position I find myself in now. It’s a position I know well; staring down the barrel of a gun.This has been my last year as an undergrad.They tell me it’s all about to pay off, that I’m about to get something that’s will make these last three years worth it.A degree.The pinnacle of education. I should be ecstatic. “Fuck yeah,” I should be thinking, throwing a celebratory fist- pump in the air with one hand while I high-five my brain with the other for getting me this far. Maybe I’ll jump in the air, cut to freeze-frame and slowly zoom out. Credits role accompanied by an upbeat pop song. Everyone keeps telling me that’s how I should feel, but the truth is not nearly so cheery.

The truth is I’m afraid.The last eighteen consecutive years of my life have been spent in some form of educational institution or another. It might as well be my life’s work at this point and yet in a mere eight weeks that’s all about to end.The end of university marks not just the end of education but a total refocusing of my life.As far as change goes that’s not so much a new chapter as a completely new book, and to be honest I’m not convinced I want to read it.

What we forget, being the noble scholars that we are, is that education is an essentially self-indulgent thing.We gobble up resources while producing absolutely nothing of value. Sure, you may write a revolutionary essay on Lando Calrissian as an ideal version of Machiavelli’s prince, but realistically two people are going to read that and one of them doesn’t really care about Star Wars.The point is that there is an entirely different set of rules and expectations for students, no one cares that you don’t contribute anything to society because there’s an expectation that you’ll make up for that when you finish getting educated.That’s what I’m facing now and that shit is terrifying. Society is relying on me to do something, to find some way of contributing, and I’m coming up blank.

But there is a deeper truth hiding behind my fear is one that may not be so immediately obvious.What I’m really afraid of is my own insecurities. I’m terrified that I won’t measure up to the standards that I’ve set for myself, or those that society has foisted upon me. Nothing fills me with more dread. Failure then, that is what I fear. It explains a lot.This year has not been the glowing finale that I imagined at the beginning of the year. On some level I probably want to fail, fail hard.That way I can keep doing what I’m doing. I don’t have to shed my familiar trappings and forge my own path, I can just do some more philosophy and watch another year roll by. Plus I might see the quad finished, what a world that would be.

I guess at the end of day I should conclude with something poignant. So here’s my advice. It may seem vastly hypocritical but, don’t be afraid of new things, that is no way to live. Fear, at its heart, can do nothing but hold you back. We live in a world where those who muck in and give it a go without hesitation succeed. And even if you do fail, would that be so bad? The trick is to be comfortable enough with yourself that you can handle failure without publicly psychoanalyzing yourself in a student magazine. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a clichéd ’90s movie ending to recreate.


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