Sunday, March 17, 2013

Youthful envy

This year is the final year of my Bachelor of Science/Bachelor of Arts degree. Final changes your perspective a lot, how you view the future, how you view the present, how you view the past. It wasn't really something I knew or heard about until I finally got here myself, but I could put that down to not actually knowing all that many people who've been in their final year. Why is this final year so different to, say, the final year of high school? Because, with any luck, this is the cusp of the greatest change in my life since I first started formal schooling back in 1996. If all goes well, then this year marks the transition from 13 years of full-time schooling to full-time employment. The completion of the first third of my life. The leap into the great unknown.

The future
When you're young, you're so certain of everything. Every child says to themselves that they'll grow up, get a job, get married, have a family. When you're older, the only thing that you're certain of anymore is that you'll get older. Getting a job? You hear about how the market is so competitive, how there are so many graduates going for the same few positions. You see your friends who have graduated studying further because they can't find meaningful employment. And you question your own capability to be different, to be one of the lucky few who gains employment in the field that they want. Getting married? You see the breakups and recriminations, the hope and the despair, and you wonder if you'll ever get that far. Having a family? You don't even know if you can look after yourself out there, let alone having other people depend on you to make all the decisions, to nurture them as they follow in your footsteps. Nothing is certain anymore, only that time, unrelentingly, flows onwards, that the amount of time you have left to do anything is always diminishing.

The past
So many regrets, so many wasted opportunities, so many mistakes. I should have gotten more involved in this, I should have put more effort into that, I should not have done what I did then, this is what I should have done instead. Oh God I was such a fool, an idiot, a wastrel, a sloth, a procrastinator, too caught up in the moment to plan for the future.

The present
So what can I do now to rectify the mistakes of the past? How can I go about achieving the goals of my future? What can I do this year, this month, this week, this day, this hour, to go about getting somewhere, anywhere? And how can I communicate this depth of feeling to those younger than I, those who are entering university for the first time and making the same mistakes of unpreparedness that I made?

I think the root for why I am so unwelcoming of first years, of jaffys as they're so colourfully known, is because of this. Because I am so envious of the certainty of their youth, because of the firmness of their rejection of what I try to tell them, having the luxury of being able to write it off as the dellusioned ramblings of a bitter old man. A man, heh. Barely three or four years older than most of these newbies. I am jealous that I, for better or for worse, can no longer be one of them.