“I Played Myself”

One of my instructors, Prof. Dungey, from my oral presentations course said something that really struck me today – I’m fortunate enough to be in a place where people would give almost anything to be where I am, and that I got here by mostly doing what I was told.

And I guess that’s just how the system works; in going from middle school to high school to college, we absorb information, regurgitate it, and then are rewarded for how well we can replicate. We prepare tirelessly for the SAT’s and ACT’s, and maybe fit in a couple of activities that interest us, but don’t have much passion for. Advisors tell us to do this and this and that, but also ironically not to work ourselves too hard.

I’m confused right now – as a friend puts it, it seems like this semester “I’ve played myself”. I’ve taken on way too many credits (30, actually) to spend enough time I want to spend on each activity I’m taking part in. I feel like there have been too many long nights staring passively at heaps of text, and too many worries that prevent me from really focusing on one thing. Even when trying to spend time with friends here and back at home, I feel like more often than not, I have to apologize for missing out.

I don’t feel invested; I don’t feel like I’m learning as much as I can be. I took on this much because I feel like I have to and because I should.

But what sort of reason is that?

I dipped my feet into so many classes and activities because they interested me (and sometimes I think about joining even more), but then again, lots of things interest me.

So yes, this semester, I feel like I’ve played myself.

Hopkins prides itself on being an opportunity hub, and rightfully so. But the biggest challenge in coming here (and I’m sure in many college settings) has been maintaining focus. The amount of high-quality opportunities I can partake in are infinite, and I so badly want to try it all – but I can’t.

I think that’s what my professor was so expressively ranting about last lecture; I’m so very lucky to be here because of the opportunities present and the opportunities to come. I’m able to learn about wondrous and complex things through the lens of knowledgeable people with opinions and ideas frighteningly different than mine. I need to stop feeling like I have to do all these things that’ll seemingly place me somewhere ‘safe’ in the real world, because frankly, some of these things aren’t me. Instead, I should be investing my time in classes and activities I really, really, really want to take, and explore them rather than do them.

I’m lucky to be here, and I’m here to learn as much as I can. Thank you, Mr. Dungey, for making me realize that.