The Inquisition

This might come off as kind of complain-y, but it is just another post in the direction of growing up and getting closer to the real world. What I’m talking about, today, is something all young adults are most likely used to: the inquisition.

This inquisition starts in high school. The phenomena where relatives, family friends, and anyone who you don’t see all that often sees you, and their first question is something you definitely don’t know how to answer. Sound familiar?

In high school, it begins with “So where are you going to college?” and the best part is that this question is asked as early as Freshman year. So of course no one knows where they’re going to college then! But, in keeping with the rules of small talk and the tradition of the inquisition, no holiday or family party is complete without asking. And just when you find an answer to that question, for me December of my senior year, the next step is immediately thrown into the conversation. “I’m going to Bates” “So what’s your major?” they ask, innocently, but to the person under interrogation it’s another pressing question just when you thought you could celebrate the answering of the “big one.” What I’ve come to learn is that there is no “big one.” As you answer each, the next question is not only just as big, but matters more. Intertwined with “growing up,” each successive question raises the stakes.

So while I understand that some people applied to school knowing exactly what to study, choosing a liberal arts college like Bates should have given me at least a little leeway to explore my interests. So how could I answer what my major was as I graduated from high school? Even going up to the deadline to declare, in February of sophomore year? But such are the rules of the family, friends and acquaintances’ inquisition.

But now I’m on to a different stage: with my next semester in Paris, it means that any and all holiday conversations have revolved around FRANCE. Which is lovely, you know, that people are so interested in my opportunities and adventures. But as previously mentioned, I’m terrified, so talking through terror with a big holiday smile on my face is difficult. And nerve wracking! They ask where will I live, where will I study, where will I travel, who will I see… and sure, I know a few things. I know I’ll be studying at the Sorbonne, I know a street address where I’ll be living… But right now, I’m trying to organize my life in preparation for this giant leap in independence. And it can’t just be me here who thinks it’s hard when everyone seems to be asking the questions that I’m nervous to answer for myself?

Of course I should be glad that everyone has focused in so much on France; because after France is: “Do you have a job for the summer?” (which of course is a work in progress) and then the even scarier “What will you be writing your senior thesis on?” (exponentially scarier… are you sensing a pattern) which inevitably leads up the the penultimate “what are your plans after graduation?”

I know, of course, that the only way to grow up and for life to keep moving is to keep answering these questions as they arise. I know this. And I know that when people inquire as to my life and adventures that I should appreciate their interest and count myself lucky to have people that care about me. But still, after having survived one hell of an inquisition since I got home last Friday, watching Dexter in my bed as a snowstorm rages for the next couple of days seems like a pretty attractive option. In the meantime? I’m happy to trace the questions I’ve answered so far. I go to Bates, I’m an English major, I’m spending this semester in France, I’m living with a host family and studying at the Sorbonne, and the rest of it… I don’t know. Yet.


About nbrouder
I'm a senior at Bates College getting ready for thesis and the real world!

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