Going home from school is weird. Each time I head home I am reminded that another world completely separate of Colgate exists that knows nothing of life in Hamilton, NY. People don’t know my friends, what the Jug is or the terrors of Challenges of Modernity. They also don’t understand how things work up here, which is why every time I was asked by a friend at home what I planned on doing this summer, all I had to offer was an anxiety-ridden, “I don’t really know yet.” When a family friend and Colgate alum asked about the summer, and I said that I was worried about my seeming lack of direction, they laughed it off saying, “that’s only because you’re at Colgate.”
The unreasonable expectations we place on each other and ourselves for after college is fueled by this institution. Getting a summer internship at EY isn’t considered some big deal here, in fact, one could consider it normal. Even as a first-year last year, my friends were competing for internships in large banks, well-known law firms and political campaigns. This isn’t something that other schools do, even schools that are considered equally or more prestigious. My friends at Duke worked picking potatoes last summer, my friend at Trinity (CT) worked as a lifeguard at a country club. While I’m sure plenty of Colgate students spend their summers doing these more minor jobs, Colgate students still feel a heightened pressure to enter the real world that none of my friends from other schools seem to feel.
So, I found myself home in the middle of March, stressed out of my mind about a job this summer and the potential implications of it on my future career. Truly, I have no idea what I want to do this summer and even less of an idea of what I want to do with my life, a stance that seems out of place on this campus of people who pull it together just enough to feign a sense of professionalism.
Only in the past week have I begun to accept that I don’t know what I want to do, and that’s just fine. I’m not going to work at a big bank or law firm this summer, and that’s alright. If some people are ready to make that decision and step forward into their professional careers, then so be it. I would rather take my time to figure out what I want to do with my life than succumb to external pressures and make a decision based not on me, but on what others are doing. You only go to college once, and to spend that time bogged down by worries about the future seems like a waste. These are the last years until our retirement where we have no obligations during the summer months. Why ruin that? I understand the need to be productive and make money, but this can be balanced with late nights and day hikes, rather than spending 80 hours a week sitting in front of a computer screen.
The pressure to get a head start may be immense, but don’t let it dictate your decisions or distract you from enjoying the final years before full-time adulthood. Colgate is a place where we often compare ourselves to others and want to outcompete them. Instead, we should all relax a little and appreciate that the real world hasn’t hit us yet.
Contact Gideon Hamot at firstname.lastname@example.org.