At the University of Washington’s Odegaard Library, there’s a whiteboard next to the stairs with a different question every week.
Whenever I would read the responses, they range from the normal complaints of CSE142 and bad dormmates to the absurd ones featuring pop culture references, memes, and existential crises. All using different colors of ink supplied in a black mesh basket.
Recently, I found the board with the question, “What is one of your most epic failures in life?”
The same answers went abound, from failed classes to starting to play League of Legends, from not getting into their major of choice to believing that an omnipotent God controls everything.
I even wrote something down: how I procrastinated without end, losing opportunities from the palm of my hand.
However, two responses stood out which made me quite sad: one lamented on their decision to go to the University of Washington, with another calling it “being bounded”—an inversion of UW’s promises to be “boundless.” Another commented, albeit jokingly, about being born.
Regardless of how sarcastic or serious these were, it implied that their lives were filled with undying misery and woe.
When I look at UW’s Boundless Memes page on Facebook, I also note this cynicism. One of my favorites was one featuring somebody knowing they may not be able to get accepted to the Computer Science major, so they would end up trying to take Canadian Studies instead, to justify they’ve got a “CS” degree.
Naturally, I understand. It took a lot of work to get into college, and a lot more work to get a degree, a job, and dignity. I find myself struggling to get readings and papers done, trying and failing to get a decent job, and wondering if I should’ve chosen the path I engaged in.
My father warned me that I needed to get into the hi-tech industry instead, with its myriad of opportunities, a golden door towards wealth and general prosperity in the modern age. Yet I enjoy my major, in that I get to learn so much about the world I’m living in and hopefully developing writing skills so I would use them in a future research job.
However, throughout the nonsense that’s going on in the school, whether its classes, the cafeteria food, or the national politics of the day, one thing which keeps me afloat is a sense of optimism.
Everything ends at some point, for the better or the worse, but it will all be worth it in the end.
I know a bunch of people who are engaging in different internships, jobs, and experiences. They discuss how they are tired every day with doing such tasks, yet are always enlightened by it.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to take away the fact life isn’t always going to be like that on social media. As the cliché goes, one has to crop, edit, filter each photograph before it gets sent to publish, like this article.
Every word is curated like fine art, grapes for wine, or a new piece of technology. I’m not one to post something on social media without having something of significance, yet this is a frequent phenomenon.
At the end of the day, why not find something which is worth the suffering?