Sometimes, I wish I could put my brain through the juicer.

Sometimes, I wish I could put my brain through the juicer.

I’ve never understood how people sleep in contacts. Even when I close my eyes for an hour — and no, I don’t mean nap, because I’m physically incapable of the siesta — my contact lens become super-glued to my eyeballs and peeling them off stings like a Brazilian wax. I still remember when I was 12 years old and thought that I was a daredevil because I rarely washed my hands before handling my contact lens and, gasp, even wore them to the shower. My mind was blown when a slightly older girlfriend flippantly informed me that she removed her contacts once a month. My eyes wanted to bleed at the thought.

The other day, I watched an ad for Air Optix Night and Day lenses, which it claimed was approved for 30 days of continuous wear. Although I’ve developed a more progressive tolerance of various persons’ contact habits in the past 9 years, I immediately turned to Phineas and ranted, “That’s bullshit! Complete marketing scam. Last time I went to get my eyes checked, my doctor wanted to switch me over to a bi-weekly lens. I declined, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer and tried to convince me that I could wear the bi-weekly’s as monthly’s. You see? Those people say whatever they want to sell things to stupid, lazy people who will go blind in a few decades.”

I’m usually not such a conspiracy theorist. In fact, I am generally gullible and utopian to a flaw. A few days ago, Phineas managed to convince me that Gilligan’s Island was a land mass located in Hollywood. On a more serious note, my idealism has turned my college career into a roller coaster. By that, I don’t mean that my three years of college have created highs and lows. By that, I mean that after all the twists, turns, and loops, I always end up exactly where I started.

In high school, I wanted to be a lawyer. Then, I attended my first murder trial, watched a 30-minute video of the blood-splattered crime scene, and changed my mind.

At the beginning of my freshman year of college, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Technically, I still am an entrepreneur, though my co-founders and I will be disincorporating our startup in the next month. After failing my mid-term in Econ 101, I decided that business was definitely not my life’s passion. In the spring, I fell back on something I’d always loved but had never took seriously — languages. Of course, though, I couldn’t just pursue language without a clear and defined purpose. I decided I’d become a translator for the UN, drafted life plan v. 1.0, and enrolled in Intensive French. Over the summer, I declared my first concentration, Romance Languages and Literatures.

In the fall, I started to get that itch, the one all too familiar to chronic perfectionists. Everything was just going too well in my life, my courses were too easy, I clearly wasn’t challenging myself enough. Languages? That couldn’t compare to Phineas’ mechanical engineering degree. Promptly, I got myself hired as an ACT instructor at the Princeton Review, joined MIISP, and declared a double major in International Studies.

When I received notice of my State Department internship in December, I screamed so loudly the entire hall at my dormitory thought I was being bludgeoned to death. This was completely unexpected, to say the least, and my world suddenly changed. You see, the worst thing you can give to perfectionists is success, because it raises their standards and they’ll never be satisfied again. Essentially, perfectionism is an addiction to success, which — like any addiction — stems from low self-esteem and lack of self-worth. But that’s a topic for another day.

After this monumental shift in my college career, I drafted life plan after life plan, each carrying loftier ambitions than the last. These plans were further complicated by Luc, who challenged that I’d never write a book (everyone knows you don’t challenge a perfectionist). This culminated in a sort of quarter-life identity crisis in which I alternately wanted to be 1) a best-selling author and 2) a foreign service officer. One particularly feverish day, I typed out a monstrous email to my loved ones. Here’s a sample:

Life Plan v. 165.7

Life Plan v. 165.7


When I returned to campus for my junior year, I plunged headfirst into one of the hardest few months of my life. Last semester, I juggled 19 credits, my Princeton Review job, and volunteering while holding myself to a strict writing schedule of 900+ words a day.

This semester, another career-altering event occurred when I became an agented writer. Although my novel is still far from being published, I’ve been seriously considering MFA programs. For those of you who aren’t writers, a MFA is a Masters in Fine Arts and usually involves a two-year writing workshop that culminates in a thesis — usually a novel for Fiction MFA’s. Coincidentally, the University of Michigan is home to one of the country’s best MFA programs. But there’s no way in hell I’m staying in Ann Arbor after graduation. I figure that focusing on my writing for a while would do it some good, but I’m also concerned that it may not be so good for my mental health.

Since my languages have been my bread and butter, I looked into Harvard’s Romance Languages and Literatures graduate program, which is absolutely amazing. After five years, you get a Masters and a PhD. Not only is tuition/board covered, you’re even provided a stipend. There’s no doubt that I’d enjoy the program, and Boston is cool, but I looked at a list of recent graduates and everyone is a professor somewhere. I’m really not cut out to be a professor — I don’t want to do linguistic research; I want to learn how to speak argot AKA slang like a French rapper.

So now I’m back to one of my earlier life plans, which is a masters in International Relations. I would love to do Johns Hopkins’ SAIS and spend a year in Nanking, China. I wish they had a campus in Paris. Looks like I’ll end up keeping some parts of that ridiculous email life plan, as I recently accepted an offer to be a 2013 Honors Summer Fellow. Ironically, this spring I’ll be enrolling in Econ 102 to make my potential application to SAIS more competitive. This time, I’ll be sure to get an A.

Au revoir,



11 thoughts on “Soul-searching

  1. Pingback: Why You Aren’t Reaching Your Goals | Career Avoidance 101

  2. Pingback: CP: Facing Failure | Rebecca Cao

  3. Pingback: Why You Aren’t Reaching Your Goals « Working Self by Rebecca Fraser-Thill

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