At that moment, they were my whole world. I sat on the back porch with my head tilted upwards, sunshine flooding my eyes. Everything I needed could be found in the splotches of white wandering across the infinite blue lawn above me.
As they were travelling along in the big blue unknown, I wanted to join them. There is something captivating about the freedom of the clouds — the way in which they trust that they will somehow float wherever they need to go, if they need to be anywhere at all. They seemed so unlike me, someone always tempted to plan and prepare for the next semester of classes to take, activities to join, or careers to pursue. I liked knowing my destination because it meant I could lay out a series of steps to follow and complete.
But as I gazed up at the clouds the summer before starting college, I began to realize that my path would soon widen into an overwhelming expanse of choices and possibilities.
In high school, I’d felt a general sense of direction in terms of making room for all of my interests. After school, I ran from a magazine editing meeting to Math Team to Robotics practice. I was determined to continue doing everything in college, from science and math to creative writing and poetry. But come freshman fall, I was swept up in a whirlwind of STEM classes and extracurriculars; I ended up placing the humanities on the back burner. Eventually, after a year-long hiatus, I found myself missing reading literature and writing papers, and I made it a point to incorporate analytical and creative writing into my courses and extracurriculars. Now, having taken philosophy and religion classes, I feel as though I have made my way back to these ideas I remember having been so passionate about.
Despite how much I have enjoyed rediscovering my interest in the humanities, it still feels like I’m drifting in a sea of even more possibilities and unknowns. Sometimes I think I should just pick a well-defined path, like medical or graduate school, where the road ahead has already been paved with signs and intersections. I’m taking the full course of medical school prerequisite classes, just in case.
At times I also find myself with a desire to get lost somewhere along the way, to leap into something new. This longing manifests as a restlessness that I have tried to settle by trying a variety of extracurriculars.
Every semester of college so far, I have joined a new club. First Women in Computer Science, then the Harvard International Review, and now The Harvard Crimson — my interests have expanded far beyond the scope of what I originally thought they would be in freshman fall. Maybe it’s a mid-college crisis or my longing for adventure, but I find myself wondering if my interests are too disconnected from one another, if I am becoming too much of a “jack of all trades, master of none.” I start to question my motives — am I doing what other people think I should be doing, or am I doing what I truly enjoy? With each new activity I become involved in, I constantly overanalyze why I make the decisions I do.
I’m almost an upperclassman now, but I feel like my college journey is just getting started. I still want to try new things and explore further. Although my broad range of interests may not converge the way I expect it to, I remain optimistic that these doubts will settle and I will figure out my way, or it will figure itself out.
Until then, I try to remain inspired by the clouds wandering around in the sky. They make it seem easy, floating along seemingly unconcerned with their eventual destination. As they drift on their own search for where they are supposed to be, maybe the clouds can help me figure out where I am supposed to be, too.
— Magazine writer Anisha Laumas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.