Moving on… never means letting go
Emma Beck | 4/24/13 10:20pm
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in the April 25 print edition of our magazine.
For whatever reason, I moved in to college wearing a long-sleeved, black shirt and pale, pink cargo pants.
Right, in the middle of Washington’s sweltering summer—and Leonard Hall’s brilliant decision to stall the start to dorm A/C—no better outfit could have screamed clueless Freshman moving in.
I headed to Kay that afternoon. Hillel, American University’s center for campus, Jewish life, had organized a meet-and-greet for new students. A Jewish community was one I knew, one I had just spent 10-weeks at sleep-away camp in and one I, as a result, felt sure it’d be ok to prance in, black shirt, pink pants and all.
I met a group of girls that afternoon, not knowing they’d become pledge sisters four months later. I never imagined the basement of Kay– the mustard yellow walls clumped with layers of paint and that must’ve seen years of meet-and-greets within its basement confine– would transform into my base for all things religious, my sanctuary for all things comfort.
My orientation leaders had referred to Kay as the flaming cupcake during New Student Orientation. In Judaism, I’ve learned the flame symbolizes that of hope, of creation; the idea of light as guidance through the uncertainty of the future. I had no way of knowing where my undergraduate experience would take me, where the light lit four years back would leave me now as a senior and soon to be graduate.
I had entered American as a public relations major, set on a graphic design minor. By freshman year, second semester, I’d hit a quarter-life crisis, the hesitation settling as I battled with potential alternative majors.
Oy, as if I had a clue.
I once struggled penning thought to word, associating the concept of writing to the hours spent struggling to formulate high school English class responses. But freshman year college writing left no room for my high school hesitation, rather it forced me to overcome my mental block and hash out a weekly response. With time, I discovered a knack for creative writing as I slowly grasped onto a new-found passion.
I loved to write.
But I hesitated to set a major. I sought the help of my adviser, nestling into the chair opposite her cluttered desk. She rummaged through that bookcase to the back of her desk, thumbing through the thicket of pages of the AU major, minor and course list bible. She ran her pointer finger down the list of communication options, pausing as she glossed over journalism. “Oh, you wouldn’t want to do journalism,” she chuckled. “You’d know it if you did.” I agreed, of course. No part of me had ever given thought to education in journalism.
They say journalists have a thing for gossip. Funny, because so do Jewish women. By first semester sophomore year, I’d switched my major to journalism. And it was then that, somehow, it all fell into place.
I had a weekly babysitting job that let me go, only to receive a call a day later from a friend asking if I wanted to join her as a writer for a Georgetown newsletter.
I interviewed NPR’s Diane Rehm through my internship and Allen West through my reporting class that year. I returned from study abroad with an internship at The Washington Post Express and then one at USA Today. My first article made the cover page of USA Today print; a handful of bylines later and I had a second article on the cover of a Mississippi paper that printed USA Today content.
For years ago, I came in wearing pink pants, with no interest in becoming a writer.
I still have the black shirt, but the pinks pants I’ve since tossed. We keep parts of ourselves as we move on, but we learn and we grow as we fall in sync with the self-discoveries we make along the course of our individual development processes. I discovered a love for writing as a result of a college course. I harnessed a passion that’s since structured all parts of my life, transforming into a light that’s guided my undergraduate experience, one that all started in the basement of the flaming cupcake.
I graduate in a month, no job in the picture just yet. My career adviser had suggested I look at options outside of reporting. If there’s one thing that college has taught me it is that it all falls together the way it should. The girl I was when entered my first day at Kay could never have foreseen where the four years of college would leave me today. I never would have imagined that the one major my adviser and I had agreed to pass over, would be the one that would send me on the spiral of an adventure these four years have allowed.
I don’t feel ready for real life to settle come graduation this May. But was I ready for college four years back?
No, probably not.
Each experience, each opportunity builds into defining the person we all somehow end up becoming. College is a period of immense change, in ourselves, our lives, our interests and our direction.
I am the strongest believer in trust and patience for steering us all to where we should end up. And now, four years later, trust and patience that life post-grad will leave me– and you– exactly where we’re all supposed to be.