Sam Salkin: Should I be worried?

As I began the final stretch of my junior year, I became fascinated with the idea of “worrying about worrying.” It’s a simple idea, really. A year from now, I’ll be a graduating senior, full of excitement and purpose as I enter the deemed real world. Or so I hope. Truth be told, I have no idea where I’ll be or what I’ll be doing. That is what causes me to worry.

But now, as I’ve taken my last finals and start to pack up my room for the summer, I realize it might be time to stop worrying about worrying and well, actually worry. Graduating seniors, you might be struck by a certain level of naivet? in my writing. Some might still be worrying about what the future holds and other may have never had to worry at all. Yet all of us stand together at a crossroads of uncertainty that has never existed before in most of our lives.

Three years ago, when I graduated high school, the vast majority of my class was in the midst of preparing for a transition to college. While the Ivy League called some and others chose state schools, we were all unified by the prospect of a college education. Now that we’re all nearing our last year in college, we stand together only in our common experience – college. Where do we go from here? That’s a whole different story.

Freshmen spend much of their year amazed at the independence and the options college has afforded them. Sophomores tend to slump a little. Juniors just care about the big 21st birthday (and the subsequent activities that entails). Seniors are just ready to get out, amazed at how quickly four years have gone by. The ebb and flow of college is inevitable and, aside from those on the five or six-year plan, it goes by like that. The only thing scarier for me than realizing how quickly three years have gone by is going to be when I realize how quickly four years went by.

All of high school was dedicated to getting the grades and test scores to get us into college. College has been about getting the grades and filling our resumes to get to the next level, whatever that may mean for each of us. Now we stand wondering what all our achievements will bring us in the future. A great GPA and stellar GRE scores may get you into the grad school you want, but what after that? Does the job market provide us with the same goals? Sure, there are promotions and other jobs to snag, but when can we finally take a seat and say, “I’ve made it. My life has been fulfilling”?

Chances are it won’t happen so easily. Just as I worry about worrying, I wonder what ultimately yields a fulfilling life. That’s the moment when I realize it. College has been a fulfilling chapter of my life. The opportunity to meet people from all over the U.S. and the world, exploring new ideas and questioning old ones have all been hallmarks of these wonderful years. A personal goal, and perhaps one we should all look consider, should be to emulate the unique opportunity we’ve been afforded. Maybe the binge drinking and promiscuity will wane. but we still owe it to ourselves to continue on this fulfilling path.

Some of this may read as if I were donning the cap and gown this weekend with the class of 2007. Rather, with one year left to go, I begin to realize there is no need to worry about worrying or even to worry at all. Consider this a game plan for next year.

In the words of Bob Dylan, I’ve got to “keep on keepin’ on.” We all need to. While we might be hesitant to leave college and our experiences behind, we need not abandon the norms and lessons of college. Gaining a worldly perspective and questioning our beliefs is a useful, necessary tool to keep us from worrying. Or worrying about worrying.

-The writer, a junior majoring in geography and political science, is a Hatchet columnist.

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