“Ring out the old, ring in the new, (…) Ring out the false, ring in the true””
-Lord Alfred Tennyson
While most people would look at the full quote above and wonder, why is he talking about the New Year?, the answer is that I am… in a strange roundabout way. We celebrate the new year because it is the symbolic shift from the old to the new. Deep down inside we want and hope that the new year will change our lives in some way – and thus we have these things called New Year’s Resolutions. But how often is it that those are fulfilled? How often do we actually take a grasp of our lives and make a discernible change? From what I’ve experienced, not often. My record for holding a resolution is 3 months; no more, lots less.
And yet now I find myself riding a tidal wave towards a future that I cannot see. While I am completely unable to slow myself down, the question of the future hangs like a deadening weight upon my chest, while at the same time it feels like that same future is giving me wings to fly. My 12 years of school will be over in around 10 weeks, and then comes the whole dilemma of entering the ‘real world’ as adults call it. While the limitless choices seem enthralling, it also seems more than daunting – after school, I can do whatever I want. But what is it that I want?
I hardly believe that I am alone when it comes to this. Some people have already decided, and been accepted, to a university, while others will be taking a gap year after school. I belong to the latter group, and the uncertainty of what will occupy my next year is truly unnerving. Will I get a job? Will I apply for a university here in Sweden? Will I apply for a university abroad? Will I apply for a university here in Sweden while I wait to apply for a university abroad? The possibilities are endless, and an answer has yet to be found in my mind.
Obligations and desires are the two things that my future boils down to. Even this summer, while I feel morally obligated to visit my friends in the USA, I feel just as obligated to get a summer job, which could potentially make vacation plans difficult. I want to attend university abroad, but I feel obliged to stay here in Sweden both for economic reasons and other circumstances. If I attend university, what should I study? My heart tells me one thing, yet my brain another. One part of me wants to do the fascinating, another wants to stick to the logical. Also, there exists a slight fear of going abroad – then again, I am used to the whole process of uprooting oneself utterly and completely, and adapting to a whole new society with different social codes and rules.
But the one thing I keep coming to, in my wholly indecisive moments of thought, is that whatever decision I pursue will affect the whole course of my life. At this very moment, in a mere ten weeks, my life will be entirely in my hands. Like a lump of clay, it is totally up to me to mould my life into what I want it to be. I will be the person who sets the course for my life to sail.
We’re not often given these opportunities in life, so there isn’t exactly a large room for error in my opinion. And while I do believe that we constantly face opportunities in life and that taking them is what gives us luck, some opportunities are greater in magnitude than simply getting high results on exams. Carpe Diem says a sign on my living room wall; seize the day. Live life to it’s fullest. I want to later in my life look back upon this time and say that I did seize the day, that I haven’t regretted any of my decisions more than I’ve benefitted from them.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade, says another idiom. When life gives you opportunities, don’t just ignore them. It may be scary, it may be difficult, to step into a new world, but it can also be quite fantastic. As I mentioned before, my longest resolution held for 3 months. But now I’m going to make a different resolution, a resolution not for a single year, but for the whole amass of blank, new chapters yet to be written.
My resolution is to follow my dreams. What’s yours?