Intensely happy in the right place for me

By Claire Gillespie on December 12, 2013
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When I came back to college this August, I spent four days smiling, absolutely thrilled to see my friends, professors, and campus again. On a purely emotional level, I feel very comfortable. I frequently find myself excited by a certain project or conversation and I am still in awe of the people I interact with on a daily basis and the beauty of my school.

On the other hand, I work extremely hard. The three jobs, internship, and outside research I participate in are opportunities I’ve developed separate from my decision to attend my particular school or even college at all, but I think my school attracts students who work hard and encourages an intense environment. And I love that, just as I love all my work. But I can only work so many late nights before the work and the projects that used to excite me disgust me.
School has drawn out passions
Rationally, the fact that I attend college and the particular school that I attend have opened several opportunities, from connections that led to an internship last summer to friendships to the ability to learn subjects varying from linguistics to urban history, which I value immensely in my education.

I access professors who place great importance on educating undergraduates. I write frequently and with great attention to detail and I get coffee with friends from all over the world. I imagine that these opportunities would be greatly diminished if I did not attend college and even if I attended a different school.

I am in a place that makes me intensely happy most of the time. Sometimes I feel inadequate and unprepared but I imagine I would feel this way in any direction I chose after high school. I think this school, like any specific path, has brought out certain passions in me, including a love of writing and a desire to learn about the world broadly, that other places would not have brought out.

My advice in choosing the best post-secondary course is to match your passions with the path, as I did when I decided to come to college.

Because it felt right

Most of my decision to attend my college came down to more than reason. Of course, I considered the cost, location, and opportunities of colleges in general and the schools I considered in particular, but when it came down to deciding, I wanted the library, the red bricks on campus, and the historic town nearby because it felt right.

And I know I’m in the right place for me when I sit by the lake on campus after the leaves change or when I go to my professor’s piano studio to practice. I know I’m in the right place for me when it’s late Friday afternoon and bands play in the fall and spring. Even if I would be happy at other places, this school is a place that is right for me.

Sometimes I wonder if those other right places for me – places that have similar opportunities for developing friendships and learning that I so value – would cost less and be closer to home or to a city. If I were to make my decision over again, I would use more reason and not emphasize the details that made this school so attractive to me, like the red bricks and the lake and the specific people who come here.

These details, when I’m able to enjoy them, give me absolute certainty that I’m in the right place, but it’s possible for me to live without that certainty. Ultimately, we all must come to our own conclusions about how much we value whatever it is we are passionate about in relation to the costs and benefits of the path we choose.

About the Author

Claire Gillespie

Claire Gillespie

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