I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’ll do it until I get there
Sydni Brooks | Tuesday, November 10, 2020
While watching “Grey’s Anatomy” in quarantine over the summer, as every decent pre-med student should (Yes, I’m calling you out if you don’t watch Grey’s.), “Street Lights” by Kanye West played at the end of season five episode 10. I know Kanye is quite controversial, but for the moment, I ask we separate the art from the artist. The song is from “808s and Heartbreaks” which is pre-crazy Kanye so I feel like it’s lowkey socially acceptable. Anyway, as my life has spiraled in and out of control over the past nine months, my shuffled playlists always stumble upon this song every couple of weeks, and every time it plays once, I end up keeping it on repeat for several hours. While this song almost fully encompasses my concerns of feeling completely alone in my tribulations during this time, it also provides a hopeful message on how we can persevere through these next few weeks and the rest of this drama series we call a semester.
The song basically describes how the world keeps moving, and we have to keep moving with it regardless of how we feel. I constantly feel like I’m being dragged by my hair to get through each day, and my only real accomplishment is making it through each day. Every class period is agonizing to sit through, and I feel like I’m unable to genuinely enjoy any of my classes because it feels like the rest of the world has much more pressing issues for me to deal with. I’m not that interested in the properties of torque and the rhetoric of a sentence in a novel written 56 years ago when my rights are being infringed upon, my friends’ communities are being murdered and a deadly disease dictates how we operate in this community. However, my trials and tribulations won’t stop the semester from moving forward. The earth will continue to turn and the world will continue its regularly scheduled programming whether I’m functioning in it or not.
In the second line of the song, Kanye asks, “Do I still got time to grow?” I feel like my entire college experience is defined by me continuously asking myself this question. I keep reminding myself college isn’t the place where I’m supposed to have everything figured out; it is the place where I’m supposed to figure everything out. We must prepare for internships, graduate school applications, career advancement opportunities and logical adult decision making. The rest of my life depends on how I spent these four years of undergraduate education. I know some people feel confident in having their lives all figured out, knowing exactly where they’re going and how to get there, but all I have is a dream to be the best version of myself. I have no idea what that dream looks like in practice. While this college experience is supposed to be the time to figure that out, sometimes it feels like we should have figured it out before we got here.
As Kanye realizes the moments of his life continue to pass him, he pays his fair for a cab on the metaphorical road to success. He explains that while knows his destination, he recognizes he simply isn’t there yet. My thoughts and emotions this semester have been consumed with how I want to lead the rest of my life, but sometimes I become concerned I’m not figuring it out fast enough or as quickly as my peers. I grow frustrated thinking something must be wrong with me if I can’t come to the same conclusion about the meaning of a good life that everyone else has. It’s extremely tiring feeling like I’m drowning in all of my work and obligations while everyone else seems to be floating through.
However, what I fail to realize is that I paid for my own cab to drive me to my own destination, not anyone else’s. Everyone else’s cabs are going to their own personal destinations, and their destinations are not meant to look like mine. Furthermore, I don’t have to know what the destination looks like, just that there is one. We keep forcing ourselves to make decisions that will dictate the outcome of the rest of our lives, but I think the whole point is to spend life figuring life out. We only get to do this once, and if we rush to decide how we are going to spend the rest of our lives when we have only lived a small portion of it, do we ever truly live?
As Notre Dame students, we generally occupy the same skill set, and since we are given the same tools to succeed through the Notre Dame education, I feel like I should be at the same point in my success story as everyone else. But our success stories and the way we end them are meant to be much different from each other, and they aren’t finished.
This is only the beginning of our cab ride. These next four years are just the start of the journey, and this specific time period is just one location throughout the ride. If we continue to pay the fare by putting in the work, no matter what that looks like, we will eventually make it to our destination, regardless of what that destination is. I’m beginning to refuse to expedite this process of life and success because it’s very clear none of us have all the answers to adequately do so. The global situation and the national and local responses to it are very new to us, just as each of our life experiences are new to us. But the confusion, uncertainty and setbacks cannot prohibit us from moving forward with the rest of the world and achieving our goals. We don’t have to know everything to get this thing called life right, but we have to keep going to get there.
Sydni Brooks is junior at Notre Dame majoring in English with a supplemental major in pre-health and a minor in Africana Studies. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, she has made Flaherty Hall her campus home. She aspires to be a gynecologist to serve women from all backgrounds in the medical field. Sydni can be reached at [email protected] or @sydnimaree22 on Twitter.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.