The Learning Curve

… [“The bends in the road”] captures my outlook on life at this time.  I’m nearing the end of my college career, and as that clear, defined end draws closer, so new beginnings approach as well… beginnings undefined and unclear, yet full of promise… a series of ‘bends in the road.’

When I wrote that, almost a year ago now, I had no idea how fitting the title “the bends in the road” would be even before “the end of my college career.” Then, I looked forward to May 22, 2010 — graduation day — as the day I would round that first bend.

But I was wrong; it happened much sooner.

One late night last August, hours before flying back to Indiana, I happened to browse through the course requirements for the media communication major. It struck me that this was the major I’d been searching for, two years ago, when I bumbled into (and quickly out of) the computer science — new media major, and I mused about what could have been.

I became a history major as a sophomore because of interest and necessity. History was the safe choice and, thanks to a good U.S. history class, an attractive one too.  But over the next year and a half, it didn’t go much further than that. I liked my classes (some of them, at least), I learned things, I met professors who cared about us students and were passionate about what they did, but I didn’t have that passion.

And so I coasted through the rest of my sophomore and junior years, often feeling like I wasn’t learning anything. I was accruing some knowledge of history and foreign cultures, yes, but I didn’t feel as if I were learning anything that was preparing me for the real world. But it was too late to change my major again, so I approached my senior year with the mindset of just getting through it as quickly as possible and getting on to the real world.

But then, hunched over my laptop computer that late August night, what could have been became a very faint what if…?

It was so incredulous an idea, especially to someone like me who so anxiously wanted to be done with school, that I hardly took that whisper seriously. All the same, though, I couldn’t deny that media communication was much more closely aligned with my interests and skills than history or, really, any other major I had dabbled in.

That whisper soon grew louder, but it still wasn’t an easy decision. I didn’t want to watch my closest friends graduate and leave while I lingered on. I was afraid that my senioritis and procrastination and lack of motivation that had been steadily worsening each semester would staunchly follow the law of entropy and infect this new path.

It took months to decide, months of weighing pros and cons, of discussion, of prayer. But I’ve made my decision: to stay an extra year and graduate with a double major in media communication and history, plus a minor in creative writing. I’m so glad that my parents convinced me to take last summer’s internship for credit — a requirement for my new major!

Already, I’ve learned so much — namely, about media writing. Four months ago, I didn’t know there was such a thing as AP style. Now, I’ve worked as copy editor for the school newspaper and have written several articles. I don’t want to be a journalist, but learning these useful skills and gaining actual experience has helped make this semester one of my best yet, and I’m excited (and a little nervous) about my year of straight media communication classes coming up.

I still don’t know what I want to do after I graduate. I don’t know where the happy medium is between this new media writing and my old friend, creative writing, nor how that will jibe with next year’s inundation into video, audio and web. But my outlook on school has already changed so much, and I’m excited to learn, and to have another year to “redeem my time at Taylor” … time that was lost in apathy.

May 22, 2010 — nine days ago — I watched my old class graduate. It was a bittersweet experience, sitting in the audience writing congratulatory cards and watching instead of being one of the 470 strong bidding the school adieu. And yet, I know I’m supposed to be here one more year.

Last June, I anticipated “bends in the road,” but I also anticipated my college career coming to a “clear, defined end” in 2010. So much can change in a year. It makes me smile.