“How do you really feel?”

When I glance at this question online or hear it asked by my friends at school, I shyly submit to answering, “I am doing well” or “I am okay.” Although this is not exactly untrue, sometimes I feel as though I cannot fully explain what I am currently feeling. So let me be clear about one thing: this is not a post that proclaims “It is okay not to be okay” like my college so vehemently does. This post is about exploring my frustration in feeling like I know something but simultaneously know nothing at all. This is a rant about being privileged and not knowing what to do with it.

As someone who has taken several different history and politics oriented courses, I thought that I knew definitively where I was headed. I told myself as I told so many other people that I have a major in mind, one that I think suits me best. Yet, even now, I question where that degree and expertise would lead me. Do I want to study law? Do I want to be involved in politics? Do I want to study history? To everything: yes. I just cannot bring myself to decide at this moment. Not that I want something absolute, but I am in a place of immobility. Because I become too anxious. The future comes swirling into my mind and I do not know how to stop the imagery.

I thought I was so accepting of the possibility of failure. Until it hit me that I could fail and not know who or where to turn to for guidance.

I think that is why coming to college is such a weird experience. At home, I have my relatives to articulate, “It’s no big deal!” or “You’ll do better next time.” Their faith in us is blinded to the details but not to who we are as people. Even the occasional tough love rhetoric is complimented with a celebration of something equally worthy of recognition. On campus, however, my guard is up nearly every moment because in front of all these qualified people, I know I won’t hear the same type of reassurance. It’ll come as “Work harder” or “You need to study for 30 hours a week” or “Well, what are you looking to study then?” to which you’re bounded, regardless of your response. This not an excuse to legitimize working less. This is a criticism of the way students are conditioned to become elites and to think in terms of merit only.

Perhaps I should change my perspective, as it could be simply a product of feeling overwhelmed. Despite this, the feeling of not knowing what I should do is mentally draining me from being as satisfied with my work as I should be.