Last night I went to the Plan II Sophomore Summit along with the rest of the Plan Sophomore Summit so that some of the directors and administrators of Plan II could tell us that we need to effectively map out the next four years of life pretty soon. I joked with another student in I the hall before our meeting that we’ll probably have to make a daily plan of our lives covering the next ten years of our life, because that’s what Plan II thinks students my age should be doing. I love the paternal side of Plan II, the one that’s always saying “think about your future,” and “start planning right now,” but I don’t think I’m on board with their foresight.
Typically when college students are told to start thinking about graduate school, senior theses, future study-abroads, and Truman Grants they begin to panic. The proverbial frost in our blood thickens, our internal temperature plummets a few degrees, and our blood slows to a trickle as we realize that no matter how good of a plan we think we may have, Plan II wants more from us. I’m down for that–I am. I just don’t think their message was so much for me. I sat in the converted lecture hall, my mind turning over thoughts about Young Life, cheffing, mission work, WWOOFing, and European day trips, oblivious to the buzz of anxiety and overwhelming expectations.
My good friend and fellow YoungLife leader Audrey Najera dropped Plan II this semester and is now solely a Dance major. At the time, I had no idea why she would do that, because at time Plan II is the only thing that validates me being at college. Without that moniker on my college transcript, I would feel like I’m not getting enough from college to justify the money my parents–and someday myself–pay to send me here. When she quit, I was stunned by the nonchalance and ambivalence with which she regarded Plan II. She is smart; she did the Normandy Scholars Program, and people look to her for advice and counsel constantly, and I am certainly one of those people. For her to so easily set aside Plan II, like a half-way decent beach novel, made me re-examine its importance in my life.
At the meeting, Professor Stoff was rallying us to do greater things than most college students, and prodding us to apply for things like Rhodes Scholarships, Truman Grants, and Gates endowments. I know that I will never receive any of those things, because at this point in my life, I know that I am light-years behind the people who could feasibly earn those rewards. If I were in the running for a Rhodes Scholarship, I wouldn’t have a 70 in Classical Mythology. I would be a lot smarter. My future does not lie in competing against the smartest people in the world for the “smartest person in the world” award. I don’t know what my future holds, but I think it will be something faith-oriented; if not, my future will be intertwined with food, or, more specifically–ingredients, which are typically what I like about food in the first place. This post isn’t to talk about my future, but it’s to talk about how Plan II and I don’t agree on what my future should be. And that’s alright. Sometimes Plan II is the perfect foil for my life: it brings into focus everything I’m not so that I can more clearly see what I am.
I have applied to the Normandy Scholar’s Program, and if I get accepted into that, it will spur me to make many more decisions about my life, and much more quickly than I would like to make them. Plan II tends to do that. Everyone and everything moves so quickly and ruthlessly that you realize–more quickly than non-Plan II students–that the world is a rat race in which I personally do not wish to compete. I love the classes in Plan II, that’s for sure, and I’m really looking forward to my Senior Thesis, but is it worth it? I feel like I’m playing paintball just so I can show my friends the bruises. I’m in Plan II, but I’m not at the front of the pack, nor am I supposed to be. I’m playing the game along with everyone else, but in the end the thing I value most about Plan II is saying that I’m in it. That you can see the bruises of Plan II on me. Good bruises, though, like a hungry motivation, more focused life-planning, pride, love of education, intelligence, and confidence. But not Rhodes Scholarships.
Plan II is a good thing; I love it to death, ask anyone. Not because it gives me the opportunity to be more competitive for my fourth internship or because Microsoft and Coca-Cola love working with Plan II students, though. Plan II is a good thing because it allows me to see more clearly what I don’t want to be. It doesn’t really reduce the foggy haze in my future, but it helps me more by being in it, than by not being in it. At this point, I am content to extend myself all across the college landscape doing things that make me happy. Action is a gift that Plan II has given me, but in their eyes, I’m using my powers for evil. I’m taking the motivation, work ethic, and curiosity that Plan II has fostered in me, and I’m headed the other way.