Sitting in a dark car riding back to B-town on a Sunday night, I freak myself out thinking about all I have to do over the next four days and decide that sleep is very negotiable for this Tuesday. Rest is not a priority; rarely is it even a word in my vocabulary. Four chapters of law to read, a magazine article to write (meaning three more phone interviews, taking into account the time difference between Berkeley and Atlanta and Bloomington), an application to fill out (eventually), and that’s not even considering my hours spent behind a deli counter and the 19 credit hours to which I must dedicate even more time. Oh, and then there’s worrying about my future. God bless, my future.
That word gets scarier and scarier every day. Even now when I go to bed, I kick myself thinking, one more day wasted. One more day when your time wasn’t fully spent trying to get an internship or taking on some new task that will further your future. China looks good, but what about Africa? You gave that up this summer, you screwed yourself over, you’re going to fail because this business requires credentials. And you do not have credentials.
Why is it that all the work I did in grade school has absolutely no effect on my life now? Being the top cookie seller in my Girl Scout troop for like, what, eight years in a row, doesn’t make my resume more attractive to potential employers? The fact that I participated in choir, youth group, piano lessons, and practically every sports team available for most of my childhood just doesn’t matter? On top of that, I had near perfect attendance from sixth grade until the time I graduated high school. I was a Tiger Ambassador, Link Crew leader, Teens for Life secretary, Thespian society member, PowderPuff football player, and member of the Yearbook and Newspaper staff in high school (plus continued my involvement in choir, youth group and piano).
I look back on high school and grade school and realize how much of an overachiever I was. No, really, pre-college Jeanine was a very impressive person. And I see that now. Back then, I didn’t get perfect grades. I got A’s and B’s, of course, but I wasn’t valedictorian and I didn’t win any scholarships for my grades. There were too many other more impressive individuals in my class. And that’s how I used to judge myself: Damn, Jeanine, why can’t you be like so-and-so? Why can’t you try to get straight A’s, just this one semester? Oh, and no detentions would be awesome, too (that’s another story, though).
But now in college, where last semester I did meet my straight-A goal, I feel like it doesn’t even matter. It’s all the extracurriculars that get you noticed; the clubs you’ve been in, the titles you’ve held, the elbows you’ve rubbed, the coffee you’ve carried and dubbed an “internship.” I hate it. I seriously loathe this process of watering down what I consider an incredibly full life and making it sound like a waste because it doesn’t involve a summer spent in New York, writing for a fashion mag and getting little bags of lip gloss every week. And don’t get me wrong; I love a good lip gloss and that summer sounds like the bomb-diggity, but I just haven’t had it yet. And it’s the scariest thing ever.
Being a journalist, I feel my breath sometimes catch when I think about all I haven’t accomplished. And I’m not even TWENTY YEARS OLD!!! This should NOT be happening yet! It’s ridiculous and so unhealthy. And just because other jobs may have a better job market, I know I’m not the only collegiate kid who feels like the time is slipping by for me to make my move, get my internship, and be all achieve-y. For all you people freaking out like me, heed this word of advice from a guy I know and love: It will never go away, the feeling that you haven’t accomplished anything yet. You will always compare yourself to other people, even if you’re crazy impressive and have won a ton of scholarships, had an awesome internship the summer after your freshman year, and written your own screenplay by age 20. I don’t care if you spent your summer working for the President; chances are, you’re now going to feel inadequate because you’re not sitting in the Oval Office.
The truth is, I can rant about this all day long, but tonight I will still be running around, rushing to do as much as I can before crashing. Come Tuesday night, I will most likely still attempt an all-nighter. This is college, and there’s a dog-eat-dog world waiting for us once we leave behind all the parties and free booze (free if you’re a girl). So yeah, I may fear resumes and applications and the word “internship”, but when it comes down to it, I’ll drive to Starbucks every day in a heartbeat if you’ll just let me sit in your office for eight weeks next summer.
That being said, I would love to work for you.