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The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

The Student News Site of Bethel University

The Clarion

Thriving in ambiguity

The carpet presses patterns onto my bare skin as I sit on my roommates’ floor with my legs tucked beneath me, hands braced on either knee. We form a triangle, Ruth with two clementine slices primed for takeoff, and Soraya and I wait with mouths open and eyes wide.

“This is going to go horribly,” Soraya says.

I wholeheartedly agree. Nobody in this room has any faith in my athletic ability.

I have an annotated bibliography due in the morning and the document has been open on my laptop for days. 

Ruth throws her off-brand Cuties. Soraya’s lands in her mouth. Mine hits me in the eye, not-actually-orange juice stinging as I squint. I grin and wonder if this is why they don’t allow hall sports, or if that has something more to do with the potato cannon clause in the Student Handbook.

We’ve spent the last hour talking about everything. Jobs, dating, places to live after graduation. The day we won’t be roommates anymore, sprawled out on one of our bedroom floors ruminating and scheming and dreaming.

It terrifies me. I’ve made a home here, a home with Target string lights that half-burned out the day I put them up and a mini fridge shaky on its base. Where Ruth has a dedicated corner of my bedroom rug and Soraya sings the “Descendants” soundtrack in the sink room and Cayla updates the chore chart every month and carries our intramural basketball team on her shoulders and keeps us all sane. 

I don’t have a job lined up. I’ve gotten two phone screenings, 16 companies have ghosted me and today I got a rejection email barely an hour after sending in an application. I want to go to grad school on the East Coast but I also want to live here forever, with four seasons and my family a 45-minute drive away. I want to explore, but I don’t want to know what happens when my best friends don’t share a wall with me. When my nights don’t end with mindless chatter and fake Shark Tank pitches and plans for an epic trivia night.

I’d like to forever be in this liminal space between my college prime and the soul-sucking corporate world, between present reality and future promise. I’d like to forever be a student, but I guess I’ll have to settle for worldly curiosity, being a lifelong student of the universe instead of a liberal arts college.  

I saw a job listing the other day with a requirement unlike the usual “degree in related field” or “five years of experience.” It said, “You thrive in ambiguity.” I laughed about it, showed it to Ruth because I thought it was silly — but what a valuable skill that is, to make the most of the space between, to work in the gray areas, to make something of nothing and define the indefinite. It’s what we all have to learn to do as we leave this space that we’ve grown complacent in.

Back on the bedroom floor, I wipe the orange juice from my eye and push up onto my knees. “Do it again,” I tell her, and Ruth looks dubious but thrilled. 

She throws the slices. One lands in Soraya’s mouth. The other lands in mine. We throw our hands up in the air, whooping, disturbing the neighbors, probably worrying Cayla from the other room while she studies for a psych exam. But we’ve done it: the smallest of victories, but a victory nonetheless.

It went horribly, and then it went right. And I had fun both times.

I don’t know if potential employers think I’ve done anything worthwhile these last four years, stretching myself thin over jobs and credits and stories, over internships and office shifts and losing basketball games where we all wear Goodwill men’s jorts, over a month in Guatemala and three in England and summers living under my parents’ roof, over journalism conferences and manuscripts about jets and cramming for art history exams. But I can confidently say that I’ve caught a slice of a clementine in my mouth, and I laughed and cheered and smiled with people who mean the world to me, and they laughed and cheered and smiled back. And it was worthwhile to me.

An hour later, I submit my annotated bibliography and slam my laptop shut. Soraya plays an unreleased Olivia Rodrigo song and I dance in the hallway. Ruth lies on my rug to contemplate life. The future is scary, and I might get not-actually-orange juice in my eyes. It’ll sting. I’ll smile.

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About the Contributor
Rachel Blood
Rachel Blood, Copy Editor
Rachel Blood, 22, is a senior English literature/writing and journalism double major with minors in creative writing and graphic design. She likes getting excited over clothes with pockets, watching her to-be-read pile grow violently out of control and showing everyone pictures of her dog (whether they like it or not). [email protected] | 651.600.7757

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