Sitting here in the empty reading room of Tisch Library at 9:06 a.m., I am capable of only two things. One: studying for the three final exams that loom in my future, or two: not. So, why did I choose to wake up at such an ungodly hour only to bury myself inside of a cubicle for six to 10 hours if no one told me to? Why do I do anything that remotely involved studying when I would much rather be exploring Boston or even just sleeping? College is a strange place. First, it gives you freedom beyond anything you've ever experienced before, but then it sneakily turns you into some hard-working, responsible adult. Basically, it's sorcery.
Something I never realized before coming to Tufts was how underratedly responsible I was. The only reason I actually studied and did my work in high school, I thought, was to get into a good college and to keep my parents out of my hair. But now that I am at good college, why am I still working hard? I am not trying to get into medical school or some prestigious business school. I am an aspiring magazine editor; the key to my success is internships. I must be growing insane, or maybe just growing up.
Seemingly interchangeable, these concepts are foreign to me. Admittedly, growing insane may be less foreign, but growing up has certainly never felt like something I would do at the slight age of eighteen. I thought growing up happened when your hair turned gray and you started to think that family movie night was a rollicking good time. But even though nobody is hovering over my shoulder anymore, telling me what to do and when, I find myself voluntarily doing those very same things.
Never before have I been required to completely self-regulate and self-motivate. I was always able to lean on my parents and my high school guidance counselor to encourage me to work hard and do well. So now that I have reached the ultimate goal, at least the longest-standing goal set for me, I cannot help but wonder what my purpose is. I wonder if what I am doing presently will directly, or even indirectly, effect what I do in the future. Why do I bother studying and taking difficult classes if nobody is telling me to? I do these things because I want to, because I know that college is an important stepping stone to the rest of my life, even though the rest of my life currently feels light years away. It seems that adulthood may be less about wanting to have success and a whole lot more about wanting to create that success yourself.
Even if I never apply a single thing that I learn in college to my future career, I will always know that the days I spent in the library -- days like these -- studying for exams that seemingly didn't matter, actually mattered a whole lot. These days will matter because I am choosing to be here, in this cubicle, in this library, on this dreary Thursday morning. No one is forcing me to study right now, and no one ever will; but because I am making my own decisions in my life, I am actively contributing to whatever future lies ahead of me. And hopefully, if I'm lucky, that future will be something I can be proud of.
So thank you, Tufts, not for giving me relief from my parents or a place to party on a Saturday night, but for the freedom to make my own choices and, ultimately, to shape my own future.