Among other things, I’m a waitress back home at a restaurant called Pompton Queen Diner. You might have heard about it—it’s so good, even Khloe Kardashian came for dinner a few years ago. I began working there in my junior year of high school and thankfully, I’ve been allowed to return in the summers when my checking account balance is running dangerously low.
For the past few weeks, I’ve seen a slew of “regulars” that I’ve developed relationships with over the past four and a half years. There’s Bob, who always comes in on Saturday nights, who orders a turkey sandwich and a Manhattan up with two Maraschino cherries; “Mr. Joe” and his wife, Diana, who have introduced me to all three of their children and all eight of their grandchildren; and Matt, who was thrilled to know that I was attending his alma mater. I gave them all my standard update—I’m now a rising senior; yes, I can enjoy Hoboken night-life legally now—and when they asked me, “So, what’s next?” I proudly stated that I, Olivia Schreiber, do not know the answer to that yet.
Prior to Stevens, I was a high-strung, overly-caffeinated, determined young woman who remained steadfast in the belief that the path I had so meticulously calculated in my head could never be obfuscated by unforeseen roadblocks. I wish I had been more forgiving and flexible with myself as those roadblocks, one after another, came and went halfway through my junior year.
Of course, there was fear—fear of the inevitable reroute. I can describe it now as that feeling you have while you’re frantically waiting for Google Maps to recalculate after missing a turn, knowing all too well that you’re still driving in the wrong direction. I eventually “recalculated” and regrouped, but back then, in the thick of it, I just felt lost. I’m a former engineering student, though, so the concept of iterative design (I can still hear Professor Miles saying it over and again in Design I) is embedded in my life. I leaned on those close to and more knowledgeable than me and I found that the only way out was through.
For some, having a definitive plan after upon graduation is the only way to get to sleep at night, but I’ve come to enjoy the mystery and suspense of an undetermined future. That isn’t to say that I don’t have goals—I’m not the pre-med who talks about pre-med or competitive top ten medical schools (we all have enough of those in our lives), but my interests gravitate towards medicine, both in practice and in policy.
But to those asking me “What’s next?,” I ask, in return, for time. Time to reflect on my three previous years at Stevens, time to develop as a student, and time to solidify my goals. For now, I’m letting my intuition guide me; I’ve found that there’s clarity in entropy if you look for it.