April is my favorite month of the year. Another bleak winter is washed away by daytime showers. All of us who hibernate through the winter come out, and you are able to witness campus waking up from a deep sleep.
I invented a new game this semester. It’s called “Dream or Dread.” If I wake up after my alarm clock, all plans are off. If I wake up before the alarm, I’m left going through the routine motions that have defined four years of my college life.
The source of my dread is what bothers me every time I wake up. Recently I’m caught in moments where I go back and forth between excitement and anxiety at the uncertainty ahead. Moments of regret and fear remain after nostalgic ruminations settle. I feel like something huge is about to happen.
What I’m really dreading is the end of reckless abandonment that has characterized my life until now. Will there be room for collaborative expression on the outside? Everyone is growing up around me, and youthful innocence is discouraged. This realization is only coming after an advisor told me that college is “where you learn how to think.” The spontaneity of a new day used to be enough to drag me out of bed. Now self-deprecation becomes the only way to combat narcissism.
I’m left having to resort to scribbles written on the back of scraps of paper, or photos where I’m caught awkwardly off-center, as physical remnants — detritus becoming meaningful as sentimental objects. But is that all I’m left with when it’s all over? Penn is like a roller coaster at a theme park. What I fear is that my fondest memories will be reduced to one of those tacky pictures you get after the ride, with you candidly screaming after the first drop. No one ever looks good in those photos.
Inevitability, I dread life without the space to explore what’s possible. As the days go by, am I supposed to feel like my options are diminishing? I want to think not, only if I can find a new outlook to make it through the day. The new sincerity is a re-evaluation of our current disposition: despondency, hesitancy and cynicism are no longer appropriate for the time we live in. Tell someone they are important to you. With so many things uncertain these days, the only good investment you have is in those around you. You’ll never be around for the moments that count if you wake up late. Today I’m trying on something I haven’t worn before. This is my new wardrobe. How do I look?