Posts Tagged ‘Shakespeare’

The Curtain Opens

Wednesday, October 6th, 2021

In the past three semesters, I have considered no less than twelve separate majors. It is mind-boggling how many programs universities offer, how simple it is to change your entire career trajectory, and how I’ve somehow begun to find this incredible freedom absolutely paralyzing. There is no mystical “sorting hat” of any kind to point you towards your affinities, no warning that you may not be cut out for physics but might excel in something you’ve never even tried. Instead, I am left to sort through the 270+ majors my college offers and decide for myself which will define my entry into adulthood.

My “major of the month,” as my friends call it, happens to be English—something I enjoyed in high school and found easy to fall back on. My Shakespeare class is a breath of fresh air, a room in which I can return to a time when my impending career choice was not quite as impending. In my absence, however, I had foolishly forgotten how human the world of literature is. Reading requires intense self-examination. It forces you to ask questions like: do I agree with this message? Why do I empathize with this character? What about myself do I recognize in these pages, and why do I feel the need to return to this piece again and again and again?

The piece that brought me crashing and burning back to reality, that pried open my eyes and told me to look, no really, look at the state of my paralysis was Hamlet. While the tragedy of the Prince of Denmark had been a somewhat enjoyable read in high school, it was not a piece I had thought of very often in the months since. In fact, I had found its titular character decently aggravating at the time. It was frustrating to watch Hamlet dedicate his time to moaning about how difficult decision-making is instead of actually making decisions. To find myself utterly obsessed with the play only a few months later was a bizarre experience, to say the least, but it forced me to consider what exactly had changed. I found that what struck me most upon my reread was the horrible realization that I knew exactly how the play would end; I knew the clock was ticking down scene by scene, word by word, and that Hamlet’s indecision was, in the end, his choice. Every moment spent deliberating is a decision for the status quo. There is no stopping the clock. 

A busy month of reading for me!

As I enter into adulthood, constantly deliberating which major, which job, which club, which internship, my sympathy for Hamlet increases more and more. Every day I’ve spent idly floating through my classes, contemplating the various paths in front of me, is another step down the path I’m already on. If every morning I wake up and decide to pursue English, why does it feel so much more daunting to wake up the next day and decide on something new?

Hamlet is not only a college student in name but an enduring figure of the dilemma of the student. He’s also a guy you definitely don’t want to be, seeing as his indecision leaves him pretty miserable. Hamlet teaches students a lot of things, like iambic pentameter and the difference between thee, thou, and you, but the most important thing a student can take away from this four-hundred-year-old play is that sometimes you just have to take the leap. Maybe it’ll go perfectly, maybe it’ll crash and burn, but that’s a risk you’re already running no matter what you decide. Or, to put it in the simplest possible terms: decisions are rarely as big of a deal as you think they are. College is a world of exploration and opportunity—don’t let the paralysis of choice limit your horizons.

Here’s the Sparknotes:

  • Don’t waste three years agonizing over changing your major because, by the fourth year, you’ll be walking out with whatever degree made you want a change in the first place.
  • Don’t fear change! College is all about trying new things to see where you fit, and you can’t do that without challenging the status quo.
  • Go apply to that club or that internship you’ve been too nervous to try. Yes, right now. As they say, “If you never try, you’ll never know.”

By Evelyn Ogier

Evelyn Ogier is a second-year student at Northeastern University where she is studying English with a minor in Game Design. She is currently applying for co-op jobs in editing, archiving, and game writing for the spring semester. In her free time, Evelyn enjoys reading, writing, playing video games, and figuring out creative ways to layer in the Boston cold.

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