This I Believe

Charles - Faribault, Minnesota
Entered on September 20, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

During the spring semester of my senior year at college, I came across a medical condition with which I felt an inexplicable attraction and understanding. It read, “Acute confusional state: disorder characterized by confusion, inattentiveness, disorientation, illusions, hallucinations, agitation and in some instances autonomic nervous system overactivity… condition may also be acute and reversible.”

I do not officially suffer this disorder, though sometimes I felt like I do. Perhaps it might explain my consistent misplacement of my wallet, homework, keys, and backpack, or even where I locked up my favorite bike. Yes, I lost my bike in a parking lot last week and it took me almost forty-five minutes to find it. Claiming to suffer an Acute confusional state would help explain my faults as a human being.

I’m a college graduate now, living in the real world, and if there’s something I have learned and truly believe, it’s that Life is not multiple-choice, which I fear will not bode in my favor. This year, as I search my apartment for a set of strategically lost keys, or a missing wallet, I will not be prompted by my query and a set of possible locations.

“Greetings, absent minded individual. You need your keys. Are they:

A. under the sofa,

B. in your pants pocket,

C. still swinging from the door lock, or

D. lost forever, and going to cost you $50 to replace”

Swimming freely in this post-college “real world,” I feel like I’ve lost my mind and my routine. Gone are the days when a four-hour lab was a burden, when a semester’s paper could be completed the week before deadline. Once I find time to think about it, I’ll realize that life’s just not fair. It’s more difficult than my previous life’s worth of homework, where you scored a seventy percent and knew you had to study for the final. In the real world, life is a lot harder; every day counts towards the next.

It’s shocking, believe me, but there aren’t study sessions or cliff notes for my job. I actually have to look up the answers on my own or ask a coworker. When I can’t find an answer, I spend days working to find a solution. I want to succeed, I truly do, but it’s like I’m swimming against the current without a clear view of my goal. To be honest, I haven’t felt this helpless in ages. Wikipedia may have a comprehensive biography for Descartes and Kante, but where is their how-to section for making it in the real world? Where are my reliable shortcuts to hours of free time?

Though I work hard every day just to find myself slipping to the bottom of the corporate totem pole, I have found that my Life, full of challenges and unrefined responses, is much more rewarding than I once thought possible. Each decision I make belongs to me. Every time I stumble through a question, I own every answer. For better or for worse, graduating from college into a life full of prompts and free responses has earned me more experience than can be contained in a class or book. Leaving college, we have the rest of our lives ahead of us, with its challenges and rewards, and we will acquire the ability to face and respond to whatever comes our way. I’ve learned to find my own answers and paths in a terrifyingly real world, and that kind of freedom and opportunity is rewarding to me.