Social Situations: The Great Perhaps


Claire Marvin, Columns and Reviews Editor

I recently read the book Looking for Alaska by John Green. As your average over-stressed and over-scheduled teenager, prior to reading this novel, I hadn’t read a good book outside of my required 12th grade English curriculum in quite some time. Even though I might have been out of the recreational reading game for a while, I can still tell the difference between novels filled with pages spewing out “coming-of-age” garbage and those whose raw grit and angst portrays a more authentic teenage experience. And Looking for Alaska is certainly of the latter variety.

The novel focuses on a teenage boy who leaves behind his mundane life to go off to boarding school in search of the “Great Perhaps.” “I go to seek the Great Perhaps,” are the last words of the famous French renaissance writer François Rabelais, and the main character in the novel, Miles, takes these wise words to heart as he begins a new chapter in his life. It’s the “Great Perhaps” that really got me thinking and set this book worlds apart from any I had read before.

Aren’t we all seeking the Great Perhaps every morning we choose to step out of our front doors? For me, the Great Perhaps encompasses everything from what conversation I’m going to share with my friends at lunch, how my English teacher will respond to my essay, and what memories I’m going to make after school, to where I will graduate from in four years, how I will “make it” in the real world, and who I will eventually become. As most everyone knows, nothing is certain in this life (except for maybe death and taxes), and we live our lives just a moment away from our next “perhaps.”

As the reality that I will be going off to college in just a few short months and incidentally leaving everything I have known and loved behind me in a massive cloud of dust and nostalgia, has started to sink in, I realize now that my next perhaps will be a great one indeed.

I’ve been lucky to have had such a great support system behind me throughout high school, well for all of my life really, but I know that I have grown far too comfortable with the way things have been. I wake up around the same time, eat the same breakfast of oatmeal topped with blueberries and agave syrup, go to the same classes, eat lunch with the same people, drive to my various after school activities in my same car, do homework, eat dinner, do even more homework, and then fall asleep around 11:30 or later just about every single weekday. Despite how routine it may seem, the little quirks, funny conversations, and flashes of life that happen in-between those mundane moments make my life a happy and content one.

Now though, it is time for me to go out and actively seek my Great Perhaps, and not allow myself to become a bystander in my own life. I have no idea who I will be sharing a room with next year, what classes I will take, where I will be living, who I will meet, or if I will even like college, but at the end of the day, I like my chances and wouldn’t trade them for the world.

As this will be my last column I would like to thank each and every one of my readers who have taken time out of their days to read the musings of a silly idealistic high school girl. I know what I have written over the past two years will not change the world, but I hope that for those who have read my columns, what I have written will carry with it some sort of impact, even if it is only for a few fleeting seconds. Maybe our paths will one day intersect again, but in the mean time we have got a lot of seeking to do. So here’s to the Great Perhaps; may yours be filled with much greatness and only a little perhaps.