This year for Thanksgiving, my family went to Florida, and so for the last week, I have been thawing out. After all, winter is coming. We packed a lot into our vacation including roller coaster rides, nature tours, and beach combing. All of this variety proved exhausting, but it remained grounded by the consistent presence of breakfast buffets.
Now, I have a love-hate relationship with buffets. On the one hand, they offer a multitude of options from pancakes to eggs to oatmeal. On the other hand, I cannot possibly eat every item. If I attempt to eat all of it, my meal lacks thematic unity and leaves me with a bellyache. So I am left with the incredible burden of choice.
Now, obviously, this problem is not a crisis… it isn’t even a real problem. In fact, it stems from the incredible privilege of abundant nutrition for which I am grateful. But, over the course of the last week, I began to notice the potential metaphorical resonance of the breakfast buffet. And, like any good bibliophile, I really cannot resist.
The breakfast buffet exemplifies the problem of an overabundance of options. This challenge is certainly present at Middlebury. Here, there are over 170 different student organizations, over 40 different academic programs, and an average of six different dinner entrée choices. One simply cannot do, study, or eat all of them. College obviously opens many doors, but the experience also requires the ability to shut them. Taking on zillions of extracurricular activities or failing to balance the academic load proves untenable. When I put myself in that position, I cannot do anything well, and I end up frazzled, ineffective, and dissatisfied.
To avoid this, I need to choose which clubs or classes or dinners I want most. The problem boils down to actually ascertaining my preferences. I struggle to know what I want before I’m in the thick of it, and, by then, it’s too late. Although I was hoping to escape this issue, it does not seem confined to the college experience. As I plan my next step, I am again encountering overabundance. There are so many career paths available to Middlebury graduates that choosing any of them becomes challenging. It requires a deep knowledge of one’s self.
In the end, I am definitely grateful for this overabundance. I greatly appreciate the ability to choose how I spend my time and my career. I would much rather pick between bacon and sausage than have none at all. I am just still learning how to navigate all of those choices! Luckily, I already have a lot of experience. In the end, knowing my own interests and needs might prove the most valuable element of my Middlebury experiences.