Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 26, 2024

A Jumbo’s Journey: The penultimate mile

A Jumbo's Journey.png
Graphic by Rachel Wong

“Life is getting pretty real,” one of my friends said as I was attempting to peacefully eat my Hodge bowl in the hallway. When we sensually locked eyes, his pupils were filled with anxiety, nerves and worries. It wasn’t until later that night when I was staring at the ceiling of my dark, lonely single when I realized that life is, actually, getting real.

What do you want to do with your major? What do you want to get out of life? How is the universe growing, and what is it growing into? These are just some of the few questions that occupy my mind when I am trying to read Immanuel Kant. Life is real, and that sentiment dawned on me that night. And, unfortunately, it’s only going to get worse these next five weeks. We, my friends, are in what I like to call the penultimate mile.

All my fellow cross country runners know that the penultimate mile is the worst mile in a race. The second to last mile. All that initial adrenaline is gone, and now you’re just in a group of skinny, smelly men running in a pack, huffing and puffing, waiting to cross the finish line. It is terrible, and we  as a collective  are experiencing the penultimate mile of college.

And many of you may be thinking, “Oh Ben, you’re just a pessimistic fool.” Well, wake up! This ain’t a game no more. This is real! So what if the sun is shining and the birds are singing? It’s all one big facade. Those picturesque picnics and iced coffees? Lies! It’s all one big conspiracy! We’re all trapped in our own delusions. Everyone is walking around smiling and chatting. Why? Why are you smiling? Ain’t nothing to be smiling about. Job finished? Job’s not finished. We are all just sweaty racers running around in tight shorts singing lullabies!! Lock in, dammit! This isn’t over!

Sorry, if you couldn’t tell, I’m a little bit stressed. This penultimate mile stuff (and the universe stuff. Like seriously, what is dark matter?) is bringing me back to my cross country days. But, I guess college isn’t a cross country race. Sure, it’s a mentally taxing endurance battle, but cross country doesn’t have this many unsolicited job offers (looking at you TTS).

In a more optimistic perspective, this period in time can be seen as a milestone, especially for us freshies. We are almost done with our first year of college. Almost 25% done. That’s pretty insane. And of course, I will be going into a detailed reflection next issue: my last column of the school year. I still am awestruck by how quickly time has flown by. Like, think about who you are now. Think about these past six months and how much you have accomplished and all the experiences you’ve gained. We are all completely new humans. It’s incredible.

In the end, I guess the old adage is right: Time does fly in college. And, though these next five weeks may be full of work, studying and pale, weirdly oily runners, it’s going to fly by and soon enough the job will be finished. I know that so many people rely on me for advice on how to live their life (especially all you old seniors), but I think I am just going to go into these final weeks raw, fully embracing all the hard times and relishing in the fun times.

Everyone on campus is closing in on their academic year. Whether it’s your first (moi) or your last (wrinkly seniors), it’s still a chapter ending. Any ending is bittersweet, and the moments leading up to it are memorable. In a nonsexual way, I think we all just have to raw dog these next five weeks and see where we end up. That is the true beauty of a penultimate mile.