Behind the Door

Boy, when you’re sitting at home with no job after graduating from college, you end up introspecting a lot. Seriously, there’s only so much time I can spend in a single day catching up on Mad Men, finding new music on Spotify, reading John le Carré novels and blogging.

That’s pretty much my routine these days: wake up at 11:30, make a sandwich, watch a movie, watch another movie, eat dinner, watch basketball, skype my girlfriend, sleep. A few of my old high school friends are around to drag me out of my shell: an awesome Shins concert, a trip to the new casino downtown (where I won $10 on a one-cent slot machine and promptly got the hell out – never forget that the house always wins). But mostly it’s just me, and my thoughts.

So what have I been thinking about lately (besides my immediate regret for last week’s LeBron related post)? The future, of course. That same thing that’s been slowly consuming my soul since arriving at Amherst for the beginning of senior year. Us class of 2012-ers may have sounded like a bit of a broken record on that front for the past eight-nine months, but it really can’t be helped. For the first time in our lives, many of us are not on some track. Ever since we headed off to kindergarten, the next step was essentially pre-ordained for us: the next year of school.

Perhaps the first glimpse of choice came when we graduated from high school. For many Amherst students, though, I imagine that picking a college is a sort of formality – the greater choice of whether to go to college at all or not was already made, through socio-cultural expectations or parents or what have you. That’s how it was for me. Some students, I’m sure, exercised more agency than myself: in choosing to travel across oceans and continents to go to Amherst, or openly defying a guardian, or paying their own way through every SAT test and college application because they decided that’s what they were going to do.

I’m a more late arrival to the self-independence party, so I still feel rather unsteady about everything. I recognize that I’m extraordinarily lucky. I might be unemployed for the summer, but in the fall I’ll be back at Amherst working in the Russian Culture Center, tutoring high school students and helping out the burgeoning Film and Media Studies department where I can. But satisfying as all that is, I’ve still only bought myself a reprieve: it’s a one-year gig, and should I decide to go off to graduate school in fall of 2013, I need to take the GRE, send off applications, find a place to live and a job and yadda yadda yadda. Say I want to do something else, it’s all the same, only, you know, minus the GRE.

Indecision has always run in my family. My brother was horrified to learn that my parents and I always considered him the Decider of sorts, as it’s only in the context of family gatherings that he appears forthright. Tasks as simple as picking a restaurant for dinner can turn into a shrugging, gradually starving-to-death nightmare, as all of us refuse to assert any kind of preference.

But that’s what I’m struggling with now as I try to plan my next move: do we do this out of politeness and deference to others, or do we genuinely not have a preference? Is it possible to simply not care? Surely not when it comes to one’s career. So it’s just a matter of realizing that this decision is mine to make, and asserting myself.

That probably sounds like a bland revelation to many of you, dear readers. But it’s a step that I’m really not used to taking. Everyone hits those points when they need a little encouragement. I guess that’s where I’m at right now.