I came in thinking I might double major, become a world-renowned doctor or lawyer and sail off into the sunset of wealth and prestige. Then I thought I would become the next Bruce Springsteen, again sailing off into the sunset of wealth and prestige. Now I’m entering my fourth year, and the only thing I know is that somehow, some way, I am going to sail off into that sunset. Or maybe just build a cabin on the side of debt mountain, growing old reminiscing about my glory days (they will pass you by, so says the Boss).
But regardless of where I wind up, I’ll always have Berkeley. These three, going on four, years of countless misadventures and spontaneous acts of hopelessness have made me who I am and will continue to shape who I become.
I’ve heard so many people say, “It’s college, you’re allowed to fuck up.” Don’t be fooled. You aren’t. Or if you are, you still feel like dirt afterward. It’s not that you drew up a bad map. It’s just that things change and you have to adjust. That’s why planning doesn’t work — if you fuck up the plan, then what are you left with? A backup plan? Oh please, if it was actually worth its weight in water it wouldn’t be a backup.
Now, I’m not saying to go maverick all over Berkeley. You probably have some semblance of drive or ambition with some distant goal in the back of your head, otherwise you wouldn’t be here in the first place. But you can’t expect everything to fall into place — because it won’t.
When I was really young my dad would tell me, “Some days the bear eats you, and some days you eat the bear. But rest assured, there will always be another day.” That makes no sense, but for better or worse, I still think it’s the best advice my dad ever gave me.
Now you might find yourself dry-humping someone’s leg for a semester thinking “How I Met Your Mother,” before you realize that’s not how you meet her. Or chain smoking outside of FSM because, let’s face it, the only side affect of smoking is looking cool (you’re young and invincible). And you will definitely find yourself in Mainstacks cramming for a final, turning down AdderaLl from the guy outside in a gray hoodie (unless that’s your thing).
These things will pass, or maybe they won’t. But regardless, you can’t plan for them. They just happen. And that’s the best part about college: It just happens … it happens again and again and again, and before you know it, it’s almost over.
That’s why it’s important not to get caught up in the motions. Daily routines are nice, but they breed exhaustion, complacency and an impermeability to excitement. So many people get lost in the daily grind, mistaking routine for busyness, that they just fade away. “Whatever happened to John from freshman year?” No ones knows, and no one really cares.
Take some time to jump on a bus, BART or go on foot and walk around. Don’t go out with a destination in mind. It’s the best way to experience this place, and its the best way to clear your head after a night full of awful decisions or a week full of papers and midterms.
So it’s on you and you alone to get what you can out of your time at Berkeley. Whether you want to dry-hump, chain smoke or jump on the A-train and study down, do it, but don’t plan for it; that ruins all the fun.
Last weekend, I met with my friend. We got out our compasses and papers but wound up doodling. She drew a really great boat, and I made the most realistic stick figures you’ve ever seen. Three years in, we’ve realized we might not be the greatest cartographers. But we don’t need maps, anyways.