THE FLIP SIDE As Time at Georgetown Ends, Dividing Lines Get Blurred

Is it me, or is it becoming increasingly difficult to figure out where to put ourselves these days? No, this is not going to be a treatise on ethnic or religious diversity, nor does it have anything to do with anthrax, terrorism and the like. Instead, I am referring to the everyday divisions we use to identify and justify who we are and where we are going -and these divisions only seem to get more complicated the more they expand.

For instance, I once found it pretty useful to categorize my peers in two camps: those who put their CDs in alphabetical order and those who do not. Laugh as you may, but there is a lot more to this system than one would guess at first glance. Belonging to the former group implicitly confers a host of attributes: organization, meticulousness and responsibility, to name a few-or a disturbing tendency to engage in obsessive-compulsive behavior, depending on your point of view. Membership in the latter implies a more relaxed and creative manner of arranging music . or plain old laziness. Either way, there’s a method to the madness.

For the record, I must admit that I did try and keep my beloved CDs in concise alphabetical order, a practice that has long been abandoned for reasons of time, efficiency and sanity. Now, I pretty much count on finding them in my room, our living room stereo, my friend’s Discman or between the seats of my car. So am I a born-again free spirit or simply someone who failed at a formerly ambitious task? This method of viewing the world is definitely no longer sufficient.

Freshman year, I thought it pretty reasonable to group my friends and acquaintances into those who could actually wake up for and function at an 8:15 a.m. class and those who simply couldn’t. After one miserable morning in such a Spanish class, there was no question as to which group I found myself. At 2 or 3 a.m., I am probably at my creative peak; at 8 a.m., I am effectively an intellectual waste of space. Unfortunately, in few short months, all of us seniors will have no choice but to leave the idyllic, insomniac existence college life affords and enter a realm where the wake-up calls are that much earlier and more painful – so it seems this dividing line has also almost met its expiration date.

I dropped the Spanish class first chance I got. Somehow, between everything going on along the way, I never managed to pick up another one. This is something I regret now that I have but one more semester at Georgetown. It would have been much more helpful and less embarrassing had I been able to get beyond a hesitant “Como estas?” while visiting Spain. Instead, I stared blankly at people while they spoke, wondering if they were laughing at private jokes or at my relative ignorance of languages. I have a friend who can speak at least four languages fluently; my paltry “Buenas noches” seems even more inconsequential. Don’t make the same mistake.

This past week afforded me another milestone in the quest for classification: those seniors who are actually marketable at a career fair, and those who are not. Don’t get me wrong, I am more than satisfied with my English major. I have read some incredible works, tested my creative potential (I am dimly recalling struggling through Ezra Pound sophomore year) and have had wonderful professors. Reading and writing is what I enjoy, so it seems like a no-brainer that this is how I have spent the last four years.

While all this may be true, it did not do much to alleviate the growing sense of panic I experienced when reading through the long list of companies attending Career Fair 2001. I had been assured that being an English major demonstrated “good analytical skills” and “efficiency at both written and oral communication,” etc. Yet somehow, I felt like the business kids, the econ majors and the government people would have a lot more to say to the banks, consulting companies and governmental institutions present than I ever would. I was told to take the opportunity to “sell myself,” but with what, exactly? y favorite piece of modern Irish fiction, or snippets from a term paper on Eliot’s use of the omniscient narrator in iddlemarch?

In some ways, this made the Career Fair quick and painless. I surveyed the scene and dropped my resume at the few places to which I thought I could actually offer something. I realized later that day that this didn’t even bother me; once the panic subsided, it dawned on me that the rest of the positions didn’t even interest me, which would explain why my qualifications did not match up with theirs. Rather, we weren’t meant to match.

Right. So now that I know which group I don’t belong to, I have about six months to figure out where to go from here.

The Flip Side appears every other Tuesday in The Hoya. The author can be reached at

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