Friday, August 20, 2010

An Endless Realm of Possibility

You know that summer feeling? The one you get when you wake up on the first day of vacation and realize that you have two months ahead of you? The one where you can feel the time stretching out before you and yes, there's an end, but it doesn't matter because there's ALL THIS TIME in front of it?

That feeling can be incredibly wonderful. It can also be one of the single most frightening sensations possible.

The New York Times recently published an in-depth feature characterizing a new stage of life: 20-somethingness, or "emerging adulthood", distinct from adolescence. The story, which will also grace the cover of the upcoming Sunday magazine, paints a "psychological profile" of emerging adulthood, distinguished by "identity exploration, instability, self-focus, feeling in-between and a rather poetic characteristic...'a sense of possibilities.'"

These same qualities apply to an unplanned summer. The joy comes from the possibility that something amazingly wonderful will happen. The anxiety comes from the possibility that nothing will.

Obviously, planning a full summer reduces the impact of these feelings. I spent six weeks studying Arabic at the University of Chicago, and am now able to express my academic goals and meteorological preferences (see below), and I do not feel, as I have in the past, that my summer was wasted.

However, I realized on a profound level that for me, the way to limit the regrets I have about how I spend my summertime - the feeling that I've missed out on so many of the possibilities that were open to me at the beginning - is to do what I want and learn not to criticize my judgment later.

Did I start working on college essays in June and finish all my AP English assignments a week early and read the collected works of Charles Dickens and sign myself up for ballet classes and secure an internship for the year? No.

But I did wake up every morning. I got to class every day at 8:30am. I chilled with some 30-year old grad students and walked to the beach in Chicago and played soccer at midnight and went swimming in a fountain at 2am.

Objectively, I didn't do as much as I could have. I didn't fulfill the majority of possibilities that were open to me.

But I think it was a pretty damn good summer. And that's what matters.

This is my Arabic presentation.
July 19, 2010

.انا أحب مدينتي. الطقس في بالو التو جاميل دايما و ممطر اخيانا فقط. انا يحب الطقس الثلج لكن التقس ثلج ابدا. بالنسبة مها و انا احسن فصل هو
الخريف. نحب هو لان التقس لا حار جدا و لا برد جدا.
انا طالب في مدراسة ثانوية و حذ الصيف انا ادرس بجامعة شيكاغو. سادرس العلوم السياسية و اللغة العربية في جاميعة. الان اندي الصف خمسة ايام في الاسبوع - كل يوم لكن لا السبت و لا الاحد. ايام الصف طويلون و صعبون لكن احب هم. ـ

I like my city. The weather in Palo Alto is always pretty and it is only sometimes rainy. I like snowy weather but the weather is never snowy. According to Maha (the character in our textbook who is the most awesome person ever) and me, autumn is the best season. We like it because the weather is not very hot and not very cold.

I am a student at a high school and this summer I am studying at the University of Chicago. I will study political science and the Arabic language in college. Now, I have class five days a week; every day except for Saturday and Sunday. Class days are long and difficult but I like them.