Only in college: Our personal puzzle

The daily jigsaw puzzle, providing casual challenge and conversation. (Kevin Dooley/Flickr)

Life is like a million pieces in motion. Each with a mind of its own, and little consideration for the pace, priority or placement of its fellows.

Each little piece has a role to play, even if that role is your unmanageable love of dining hall mints that causes you to constantly collide with other students as you refuse to obey normal walking patterns and simply make a b-line for that little black box. My daily in McMahon.

There is this great idea that, although upon entering college you may have little to no idea how all your pieces fit together, what they add up to or even what they all are, when you graduate, when you dawn that funny, flat-topped hat (unfortunately called a mortar board) and walk across a stage as someone (normally a dean, maybe a dean named Dean) reads your name aloud, you have figured out how all of your pieces fit together. You have come to understand each piece, its pace, its priority, its place and purpose. You have found who you are.

But hold up just one minute.

What?

How in the world does that make sense to anyone?

Through three or four years in a make-believe environment, where far too much is crammed in to far too little time, and way too many people with out-of-control emotions are living in far too little space, are we supposed to figure out what every piece of our personal puzzle is?

How is taking one French Cinema class, that we basically sleep through, to satisfy an art requirement, so we can earn a bachelor’s degree from the college of liberal arts and sciences supposed to broaden our perspective and experience enough to help us understand who we are and what we are meant to do?

But I can’t say that my major classes are even that much more useful at helping me piece my life together. Unless maybe they are, for you that is.

Maybe you’re one of those people that since as early as they can remember has known what they wanted to do and your idea has never once wavered. Maybe your puzzle was put together by someone careful and patient. Maybe each piece was inspected and matched to the perfect space and never picked back up, never reconsidered for a different spot or removed for further inquiry.

And maybe you’re lucky and maybe (just maybe) I’m a teensy bit jealous of you. Maybe.

I used to think I was one of those people. When I was five. When I wanted to be a fire truck (please note the truck, not the fighter).

Since then I have considered being a ballerina, a teacher, a firefighter (I did realize the truck was unrealistic, eventually), a physical therapist, a coach, a writer, a post man, a franchise owner, a biomedical engineer (mostly because it sounded fancy), a chemist, a chef, a shoe designer, a dietitian, a journalist, a therapist, a personal therapy hotline…maybe now I’m on standup comedian?

Let’s just say the pieces of my puzzle are not quite in order, still in motion, still colliding and reforming. Whoever is putting this puzzle together has certainly got some serious work to do.

And guess what? It won’t be complete when I graduate. Mine won’t, and yours’ won’t either.

College isn’t quite the time where the finishing piece is pushed into place. In reality, I think college is most similar to the time you pick up the puzzle box and give it one, big, all-mighty shake.


Julia Werth is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at julia.werth@uconn.edu.