Light at the end of the tunnel

The final months of college mean it’s time to buckle down, not hang loose

By Sam Deal, Opinion Editor

It is the time of year for resolutions, which brings with it many goals that usually end up becoming hopeless flailing of the weak-minded.

But the end of my collegiate journey is in sight and for just a few more months the goal will be to scrape by and be finished with EWU. Like many other seniors, there is finally a light at the end of the tunnel.

Yet every morning this winter break I have absolutely dreaded school starting again. I don’t want to go back, I don’t have the energy to sit still in classrooms for hours pretending to learn, or to care about more than just the grade.

This is no revelation as I felt this way the majority of my Eastern tenure, but we cannot make it this far and then stop. Not when the end is in sight.  There are too many examples of students not quite finishing; just last year I had a friend walk at graduation only to blow off a summer class and not actually receive his degree.

There was a time when I yearned for the learning atmosphere of a collegiate classroom, the challenges of new mindsets, material and concepts. Sadly, that has passed and been replaced by the struggles of focus. My yearning has dissipated into a grind to completion, doing whatever it took to get to the next step.

The next goal that I am supposed to achieve.

I will finish this stage in my life. But if college has taught me anything it is this: the get-the-grade mindset shrouded over many students is backwards, but carries forward into post-college life.

There are too many who put all the focus on moving forward, finishing school, getting a job and settling down. Rushing towards the slow down, taking society’s next steps.

This had been the case for me for many years but as I tried harder and harder to get to the next step, I realized the life I had right in front of me was wasting away. No longer did I enjoy each day but dreaded the amount of time it would take to get through these days. I was letting the optimism of the future crush the present.

This admission has actually made school even more of a challenge. I’m not happy with what I am doing and in true millennial fashion have no desire to pursue a job in the field I spent roughly $30,000 to “master.”

I can, at least, say that no matter the case, no longer am I letting the days slip away. The future will happen one way or another and there is no point in attempting to shape it. Just for an extra cliché, I was working on a project in a class last year where we analyzed Steve Jobs’ 2005 commencement address at Stanford University; Jobs’ words have stuck with me, undoubtedly attributed to my intellectual exoneration.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards,” said Jobs. “So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, your destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”

And this is all easy to live with until you see family for holidays. The questions are anticipated but still hit with a thud. Our families have been conditioned to ask and we have been conditioned to answer, whether the answer is the truth is another matter entirely.

“What do you want to do after school? Where do you want to get a job?”

I don’t know the answer, I never have. But I refuse to lie about that anymore; to those who care about me or myself. I’m not sure where the world is going to take me but the path will present itself if I look hard enough.

I will finish school, not because I ever really wanted to do it but because it is what I had been told my entire life that is what I am supposed to do. EWU will be the last thing I do that isn’t wholehearted.

The half-ass drag of getting a certificate that means as much as fire starter to me has ended. And not that I have regrets about doing it but I have learned one thing about myself and the world we live in: committing yourself to a goal will never yield intended results unless you are doing it for yourself, for your own self-improvement.

Unfortunately, that has not been my college experience, but I have faith that it will be my life experience. I have more faith in myself than I ever imagined before attending college. At the very least, I have university to thank for that.

So yes, I will finish school, but never again will I abandon the past or present for the future.