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Thoughts from the Metra

| Thursday, August 23, 2018

First, I thought I could use the time on the train to meditate or pray — I’ve been rediscovering my faith this past year. I underestimated how hard it was to treat others how you’d like to be treated while commuting with hordes of angry businessmen who hate their lives. When people, myself included, are tired and late for a job they hate, there’s really no amount of prayer and reflection that can redeem your belief that humans are naturally good at heart. Any sort of human decency is lost when there is one seat left on the train and a financial CEO needs to rest his weary feet. After being shoved, stepped on and cursed at — all within the first week of work and all by adult men — I lost all my faith in a higher power. Just kidding. Kind of.

After losing my religion, I began downloading podcasts to commute with. This worked for a while, until the irony of listening to inspiring podcasts every day, getting amped up, then sitting at a desk and staring at a wall for eight hours a day really sunk in. There are only so many “How I Built This” success stories you can hear before you drive yourself mad with regret for settling for a boring old corporate internship. I did try switching to true-crime podcasts for a while, but then the mutual anger of all on-board became a factor again. I was constantly paranoid and certain that one of these angry bankers would shove me in front of another train if I didn’t sprint down the platform fast enough. The podcasts were out.

With reading out of the cards due to motion sickness, I was forced to resort to the noblest of pastimes — thinking.  And, given the stage of life I’m in, my thoughts usually followed a certain course. For the first time in our lives, we are staring into a future with absolutely no assumed plan or “next-step”(I’m referring to seniors I suppose, but really all college kids are in the same eventual boat, destined for the unknown). I’m aware there are those who have had an internship with the same finance firm (firm? company? I suppose I should nail the lingo before I try and generalize) every summer and are all set to jump onto the full-time locomotive. For the rest of us plebeians, however, there’s not a clear-cut path and it paralyzes us. Think about it — at every other “landmark” transition period, you really had little room for speculation.

The biggest decision we’ve made as of yet was where to go to college, and really, that was a pretty meager excuse for a decision. You may not have known in what state you’d be on the weekends, or what size the school would be when you’d be ignoring your studies in favor of aimlessly staring at a cinderblock wall for hours, but you knew you were going to some college somewhere.

Now? The questions take a turn for the existential: Where the hell am I going to be spending eight hours a day? Where will I be living and which of my friends will be there? Will I meet my potential husband or will I just adopt a lizard and call it a day? Both viable, yet polar opposite, ways to approach the plate, and I will soon be up to bat. Not familiar with my sporty lingo? Let me sum it up, plain and simple: It’s decision time.

Or maybe … it’s not? I will defend the idea that an unknown future is exciting until the day I sell my soul to corporate America. As of right now, I have absolutely no plans after graduation, which means nothing is off limits. I can finally spend the summer working in a National Park, which I’ve wanted to do for years. Or … I can study for the LSAT/GMAT/GRE, should I change my mind about grad school. Now that I’ve spent three months in a banking internship, I can say confidently that there are worse jobs than waitressing, so that’s another option. I recognize it is from a certain point of privilege that I can fantasize about my looming unemployment, and I will have to become acquainted with living without many luxuries I’m used to once May hits and my parents cut me off. But so long as I can swallow my pride at not having a “prestigious job” post-grad, the opportunities abound.

And if, after a year or so of bumming it, I decide I don’t like that either, I can always marry rich.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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