For seniors, the future is a blank canvas with no color in sight

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September 4, 2007

5:33 PM

It is with great hesitation that I begin this first column of my senior year. Suddenly all of my days are more momentous: the last of an era, the first of a new beginning. Already, the year is posing challenges. I have learned that I have lost friends, and it is a constant reminder that I have to work hard to retain the relationships I cherish while we’re all still here. My roommate and I have made a pact to be more serious about going out, yet she has graduate school applications, and I have an honors thesis to write.

p. The seniors are officially screwed.

p. I used to have a plan; it was beautiful. I’d kick my parents out of a rent-stabilized apartment in Manhattan, live with my current roommate and my boyfriend, parley my summer internship into a salary gig and wear the most fabulous clothing. Turns out this was a full-on Monet. The closer I came to realizing my plan, the more it just became blobs of anxiety.

p. I can’t take over the lease to the apartment. My roommate will probably be happier elsewhere. My boyfriend’s moving to Brazil, or rather, definitely not to New York. I became jaded about my job though, given the fact that the rest of my plan is falling apart, I’ll still go back. And Patricia Field will not be styling me for free.

p. After a year of deriding the engaged seniors, I have suddenly been hit with the kind of double-or-nothing attitude that would push me into a huge commitment. Just as my plans for the future seem to have done a 180, now I have to look with the same scrutiny at my boyfriend? Am I becoming brainwashed into a desire to nest? Is this the new disorder: The only thing I can control is my marital status, so I might as well get hitched? Or am I supposed to purge and be boyfriend bulimic? The last thing I need is to be fighting over paint colors (or indoor murals) while simultaneously trying to fill in the blank wall of my career.

p. I’d like to know when the all-supportive, dream-encouraging parents become the all-business reality mongers; I imagine the answer is the summer before senior year.

p. My father wants me to start my own business, the premise of which I can’t really go into because he’s convinced my idea will be taken. (In his defense, it’s a great idea.) It also may become his retirement plan, and that’s a lot of pressure. Suddenly, he wants to be CFO. My mother had a great solution.

p. “You should be a secretary on Wall Street,” she told me.

p. “A secretary?”

p. “Yeah, and then you can still have a salary and benefits, make a good income and marry a broker.”

p. Thanks, Mom.

p. I should say that I have zero financial background and zero experience groveling in the tight marriage market of the 401k set. The prospect made me a little ill. I went to lie down.

p. On that hot summer day I dreamt of living in cardboard boxes, disowned by my parents for abandoning their hopes. I ate boiled Norton Critical Editions for food and tried to barter aphorisms for nickel? The drug addicts shunned me; the punks and dropouts taunted me. I was utterly alone with the voice of my mother.

p. “Secretary! Secretary! Abandon all of your hopes! Make money! Wedding announcements in Sunday Styles!”

p. I woke up in fear in a dorm room in Jamestown South. Three months of terror have elapsed and suddenly it’s senior year. I have to keep my dream from coming true. I have to construct a new dream. An engagement-less, child-free, self-satisfied and definitely apartment-renting dream. And then, I have to make it happen.

p. The seniors are officially screwed. Or maybe it’s just me.

p. Charlotte Savino is a Confusion Corner columnist. She hopes all of her dreams don’t come true.

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