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March 16, 1999




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Hunt for college passion leads student to dead end

By H.G. Miller
Kansan columnist

H.G. MillerA girl I used to work with once told me her philosophy on life. She felt that a person should have a passion for whatever it is she does.

Our job consisted of little more than pulling some boxes to the front edges of shelves in a way that would guarantee profits and benefits for our multitudes of co-workers. She soon quit in order to pursue a more life-affirming career.

Because she was an attractive girl my heart ached at her departure, and her words stuck with me as some small claim to a “moment” shared between us. I roll them over in my head from time to time, pondering their significance and evaluating how well I follow the policy.

Unfortunately, these mental wanderings finally have led to the realization that I have no real passion in my life right now. My immediate impulse is to weep openly and start running until my legs fall off and my lungs explode and all the energy drains from my body.

I want that feeling of complete exertion — some kind of affirmation that I´m actually doing something with my life.

I can remember a time when I imagined living on my own with a grand sense of freedom, going to college classes that enlightened my mind and hanging out with friends who had funky hair and revolutionary ideas.

Although I have found a group of friends with whom I feel connected on many levels, and they have become my family in this town now that the rest of my little high-school pipe dream has faded into oblivion. Because of school and work obligations, I actually schedule appointments with my friends.

Can you believe this? Penciling in time to hang out and have fun. How can an idealistic college kid lose sight of his priorities like that?

What´s more, when my friends and I do find time for each other, it´s usually after work. We´re dead tired and cranky, hanging out at a bar, complaining about our jobs and drinking to forget how much we don´t want to be here.

As for the glamour of apartment living, that was grounded into the carpet stains long ago. I´ve finally reached the point of hating my roommate for the subtle little idiosyncrasies we all exhibit in life, and I´m sure he feels the same way about me. Maybe living with somebody for two years just isn´t supposed to work. Most of my friends who have done the same just chuckle when I vocalize these complaints, and I guess that´s why I know so many people who have significant others living hours away.

Or, maybe it´s just me.

Perhaps I´ve given up too easily on the passions that drove me when I first started college. I had such grand plans when I left home. I was going to write novels and fight for causes and make the world aware of my impending greatness.

Instead, I feel like all I´ve really done is learned how to beat the academic system. My only motivation these days is to just finish school. I´m sure there is a pamphlet somewhere that will tell me this isn´t a healthy approach to life.

Senioritis is an easy claim at times like these, but to be quite honest, I´ve felt this way for a long while. And, I´m fairly sure that these emotions are not unique to near-graduates.

I don´t know why, but I feel like there has to be more to this whole living thing than arranging department store shelves to perfection and writing five-page papers with one-inch margins and proper academic voice.

I do know of some small hope, though.

As I sit here exorcising my demons with black ink — it´s not a novel, but it´ll do, — I am also trying to work up the nerve to call a girl I met the other night. My face is hot and I´ve got that funky butterfly feeling in the pit of my stomach. At least it let´s me know that I am still alive.

And maybe, just maybe, if I try to focus on some of the smaller passions in life, the rest of it will all fall into place.

Miller is a Hutchinson senior in English.



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