I hate open-ended assignments. This hate is just one facet of my deep-seated desire to avoid making decisions. Sitting here attempting to reflect on the entirety of the last four years (a particularly nasty, vaguely-defined task), I have come to a realization: Ironically (or maybe not, I don’t understand what irony is, tbh) most of the decisions I’ve made during my time at Vassar have been made with the singular goal of avoiding making more decisions.
I took some economics courses because they sounded cool. And, more importantly, because while I know I’m not a science person, humanities courses came with the threat of open-ended essay assignments. The only decision a Macroeconomics test forced me to make was whether to cry before or after I handed it in.
I knew I wanted to go abroad, which forced me to declare a major in fall of sophomore year. I’d taken the most courses in econ, so with two weeks to spare I walked into Blodgett with a major declaration form in hand. While I was there, I mentioned my desire to go abroad. My advisor-to-be said I should consider the Toulouse program, which he runs. I had never heard of it, and don’t speak a word of French, so I’m sure you can see where this story is going (hint: it’s Toulouse).
Of course, it wasn’t just in my academic life that I wandered aimlessly down the path of least resistance. During my first-year, I hardly left my room (the decisions can’t get you if you’re in your room). When I went home for summer, my mother lovingly informed me that I was getting fat. I figured I should find something active to do on campus, and some of my friends were on the ultimate frisbee team. So that was an easy decision.
Even at the Misc, one of the few activities I made an active effort to commit to, my career was determined mostly by my fear of decisions. I joined Copy Staff because that didn’t require choosing article topics. I applied for Assistant Copy when an email came out asking for applicants. Then I became a full (co-)Copy Editor almost by default when the previous year’s team moved on.
I spent a year as Copy Editor, the ideal job from a decision-avoidance standpoint. It’s literally in the job description that you aren’t supposed to have any ideas. I was a point-and-shoot Oxford-comma-eliminating machine. I came in when the Editor-in-Chief told me to, sat down at the first empty computer and edited until the whole paper was done (usually somewhere between 3 and 5 a.m.).
If you’ve made it this far, you probably think I was a lazy anxious wreck, with no idea where I was going or what I was doing. This is essentially accurate. However, at this point in my Misc career, things started to change. I decided, all on my own, to run for Sports Editor—even though I knew this probably meant I would have to *gasp* come up with some ideas for myself.
At that time, I figured I would stop there. Sure, taking over Sports was a decision, but it was far less of one than committing to an Upper Exec Board position. Plus, the Upper Exec application involves a free-form writing section, which made that an instant no from me. But next thing I knew, I was. I ended up as the Editor-in-Chief of the Misc, making decisions about the paper (with lots and lots of help) on a daily basis.
I wish I could say this experience fundamentally changed me, and now I am ready to enter the most open-ended assignment of all—the Real World™ and rest of my life—with purpose and confidence. Unfortunately, I can’t. I had roughly 2.7 panic attacks in the process of attempting to write this retrospective. I’m sure I’ll have some more when I start my final final (lol) tomorrow.
But don’t feel sorry for me. Because one thing I’ve left out in this tale of my coincidental college career, is that it all (well, mostly all) worked out great. I loved my time as a member of the Vassar Khalij ultimate frisbee team. My time in Toulouse, even though it was shortened by COVID, is something I’ll never forget. My stint as Copy Editor, the long, grammar-filled nights on the second floor of Main, is the part of my Misc career I remember with the most fondness. Okay, maybe I’d take the Econ major back if I had another chance, but even now I can’t think of what major I’d replace it with.
So with that fact in mind—and because these things always have some cheesy ending—let me try to make one final decision: I won’t regret anything.