The transition to adulthood is not a graceful one.
I recently turned twenty-two, and I realized I’ve outlived all of the “fun” birthdays. To my fourth grade self, twenty-two years was an unfathomably long time. So unfathomable, in fact, that I didn’t bother to keep going past 21 on my “life prediction” timeline for fourth grade English. I beat my own estimate! So I got that going for me, which is nice.
I guess the main thing that weirds me out about this age is the loaded expectation everyone seems to have for seniors of knowing what they want. What they’re “doing.” To me it’s almost comical. For four years we’ve been encouraged to find and pursue myriad new passions in an intellectual powerhouse. I followed the call with gusto, developed enthusiasm for obscure historical epochs, thoroughly embarrassed myself in broken German (you’ll wanna click that link), and fell in love, again and again, with the beauty and complexity of technology, from the fickle whims of the electron to the subtle elegance of synchronization variables.
And now you want me to choose.
Nowhere is this cookie-cutter-ing effect more evident than at the college career fair. You’re disoriented by its throbbing noise and shoving masses and, before you realize that you’ve reached the recruiter at the front of the line, you’re being sized up like a cow for the slaughter.
“So, EE, eh?”
“Well, yes, but not exactly, I’m hoping to do softwa-”
“So you’re a computer scientist?”
“I wouldn’t say tha-”
“Well, if you had to choose?”
“Um.” You gulp, and your eyes dart across the “open position” matrix that is thrust before your eyes. Narrow columns, tight rows, precise bulletpoints. “Let’s go with EE?”
“We don’t hire for those positions until March. Check our online portal. Next?”
Sigh. When did well-pointyness become the new well-roundedness?
Am I naive to presume that aspects of myself beyond my apparent employability and profitability have intrinsic worth?
Perhaps. Probably. Even still, when I go to a job interview and am asked what I plan on doing in ten years, I can’t help but smile. “Bro,” I want to say (I’m EE, my interviewers are 95% male), “the fact that I’m here clearly indicates that I don’t know what I’m doing this summer, let alone ten years from now.”