It was 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday afternoon, and UIS stared me down from my computer screen, begging me not to quit. As a rising senior with a first day pick-time, my class registration took all of 35 seconds, and when I typed in the word “DONE,” I felt as though UIS was reminding me that soon enough, I really will be done-with my undergraduate career at Boston College, that is.
“Are you sure you want to quit?” the blinking cursor seemed to ask. “This is your second to last chance to take the best classes with the best professors at the best times of day. You can’t possibly be DONE just yet.”
UIS was right. It hit me that I had just completed my penultimate course registration, and I suddenly felt like I had to hold onto the archaic-looking black box on my screen and never let it go. I spent the next hour searching through courses from all different departments, sifting through course evaluations, and reworking my schedule over and over again. I looked through spring courses, in an attempt to strategically plan my next and last year at BC. Going into the process, the only thought on my mind was, “I want to take these classes.” After completing the registration, all of my determination was replaced with doubt, and I couldn’t help but wonder, should I really take these classes?
Before registration, I thought I had a pretty good sense of what I like and what I don’t. I had already done my “experimenting,” taking classes in disciplines such as business law, sociolinguistics, and fashion, and I was prepared to just stick with what I love: my English classes. I couldn’t think of anything better than to sign up for writing workshops and literature courses, making zero attempts at diversifying my schedule. It seemed easier to ignore the 40 other subjects, because that opened up too many possibilities.
After meeting with a professor to discuss my decisions, I expected her to applaud my commitment to the English department. Instead, she uttered the one word that I may fear the most, the one word that drives so many of my choices: regret.
During her own college years, my professor regretted not taking more diverse courses to supplement her writing classes, such as history and psychology. Despite what I may have believed growing up, creative writing requires more than just a pen, paper, and an idea: it involves reading work from other disciplines, and sometimes even a great deal of research. If my own writing professor was cautioning me against taking two writing workshops, where did that leave me? What I wanted to take seemed to lose precedence over what I should take, and just thinking about how many courses I missed out on, and whether or not I made the right decisions, left me with a feeling of panic and, of course, regret.
The debate of doing something out of desire versus obligation is a daily struggle of mine, and I’ll admit that choosing one over the other never seems to end in complete satisfaction. It mostly occurs in trivial moments-I want a Honey Q or New England Classic for lunch, but I should just get a salad or grilled chicken. It happens on Saturday afternoons-I want to watch another episode of Friday Night Lights or take yet another BuzzFeed quiz to find out what type of cheese I would be (to my disappointment, I’m American cheese), but I should be powering through my 200 plus page reading assignments, or at least attempt to be educational and watch that film I was supposed to see for class. In both cases, I’m left feeling content, either for making the “good” decision or just for having fun, but I also have that slight tinge of regret for the one I rejected. It’s sad, but true: I experience tiny moments of regret every day of my life.
I can’t pretend that I’ll just do what I want my last year at BC, and I probably won’t make all the choices that I should, either. It’s easy to tell someone to do what makes her happy, but the truth is that there is more than one kind of happiness-sometimes it comes from intentional planning, and other times it arises from a spontaneous, go-with-the-flow mindset. One thing I know for sure is that I’m not going to restrict myself to a certain type of happiness, whether that be in my course selections, my weekend plans, or my dining hall dilemmas. I still have one more year to balance the smart decision-making mentality and the carefree, do-what-I-want attitude, and the best I can hope for is a happy medium. I can’t promise myself that I’ll have no regrets. At least when I do type in my final DONE on UIS, I’ll be able to say that I made my choices not only because I wanted to or because I knew I should, but for the ultimate sake of being happy.