Morgan Timme – All the Time in the World to Make Up My Mind

After my first week at the Istituto Affari Internazionali, I believe I will enjoy the next seven.  I sincerely look forward to coming to work again on Monday morning.  I would be lying if I said I enjoyed every detail of that first week, but that was to be expected; there is no such thing as perfection.  In fact, there was one point where I thought I had made a terrible mistake and that this was going to be the worst two months of my life.

That moment came on Thursday this week.  It was just one of those days where nothing was going right.  I had been kept up until four in the morning the night before.  I rushed to work trying to get there on time, only to discover my only source of fuel that keeps me going each morning, the cappuccino machine, was broken.  Then I was asked to edit an article to correct it for grammatical mistakes in English.  All right I can do that, I thought.  Nothing new there, I had been doing article edits all week.  This shouldn’t be hard, right?

Wrong.  While its true I had been making similar edits all week long, those had been for native Italian speakers.  They could understand basic English syntax, grammar and sentence structures.  This article was written by a native Turkish speaker, and as a result was utterly incomprehensible.  The mediocre translation would have been hard enough to correct, but on top of that the entire premise of the paper had been lost in translation.  Sure I could make the sentences technically grammatically correct, but there was nothing I could do to resurrect their actual meaning.

I became frustrated.  The farther along I went into the cumbersome fourteen-page document, the worse my frustration became.  It may be a character flaw, but when I find that I am faced with a task that I deem to be useless, it is very difficult for me to muster the motivation to do it.  I have always been that way, even when I was little.  I have absolutely no tolerance for busywork.  To be doing a meaningless task is a waste of my time and, to be honest, it angers me to have to do it.

To be charged with editing a paper that would be no help to anyone, not me, not the author, nor the Institute, frustrated and irritated me to no end.  If I was to be spending my summer doing tedious and monotonous intern tasks I at least wanted there to be a purpose attached to them.  Essentially, the bad day had forced me into the throes of an existential crisis.  An over-exaggeration I’m sure (I have a flair for the dramatic), but either way I was left questioning the path I had chosen for my summer and my future career on the whole.

After a good night’s sleep and an extra-strong espresso, the next day turned out to be much better.  I was given more meaningful tasks to perform, and I felt the confidence begin to run through my veins along with the caffeine.  Moments like that Thursday have been coming to me frequently as of late, something that scares me quite a bit.  I have known unwaveringly and precisely what I want to do with my life since the age of twelve.  Earlier this year I threw that long-clung-to idea out the window.  Although I do know I still want to do something in the same general field, a shadow of uncertainty has entered my life for the first time in seven years, something that be quite terrifying.  Quite terrifying indeed.

I’m eighteen years old.  I have all the time in the world to make up my mind, scrap everything and throw it away, then make up my mind all over again.  I think I can allow myself a few bad days and existential crises here and there.