Time well spent

By TaylorGleason

It is at once the most exhilarating and terrifying thing to finally be free of high school’s constraint. First grade, second grade, third grade … until the moment you stand in alphabetical order to receive your diploma, everything is laid out for you.

In college it’s your turn to make choices. It’s your turn to listen to yourself, to be honest with yourself and to respond accordingly. It’s a time to be both rooted and a wanderer. Like I said, exhilarating and terrifying.

You might not know what to study right away, what you want or who you want to be. Or maybe you have ideas and you pursue them, only to find out things weren’t as you imagined they’d be. Still, maybe you’ve always known what you wanted to do, and all the necessary parts fall into place for you and you “make it.”

I most definitely didn’t make it right away. In fact, I think it will still be awhile before I arrive at any understanding of what I made out of my college experience or what it’s made out of me.  At the moment, the deeper realization is still waiting to be unburied from below piles of my last assignments.

I imagine that after a few weeks of summering in the city, I’ll have the perspective to realize all of my blessed trials in college served some learning purpose.

For now, what I do know is college gave me plenty of opportunities to practice my mother’s wise theory, “Don’t work for it. Make it work for you.”

I also practiced giving thanks in all circumstances.

And naturally, I practiced much writing and reporting. Working for The Chronicle in addition to school satisfied all my curiosities and desires to try my hand at reporting. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I can’t wait to try something completely different. There is a huge temptation in our culture to treat college like a vocational school and to feel like a failure if you don’t land a job in the field you studied, but I feel differently.

For me, college was a time to explore multiple fields and to let myself be challenged and inspired by some incredible professors. And I believe I chose the best major in which to do all those things. Regardless of whether I become a reporter or not, journalism school taught me how to approach new things in life, how to ask the right questions in any circumstance and how to study new people and new ideas. Above all others, I know that is the most lasting skill I acquired at Columbia.

Outside of tangible abilities, coming to art school—or rather being around artists—helped me learn what exactly makes me “artsy.” I have not honed any great skill in the fine arts, but I am confident in my creativity. I am enchanted at the thought of making things that didn’t exist before. Because I believe humans were made in the image of a Divine Creator, I know the joy of creating is in my genes.

It’s really hard to conceive that this is the end of the line. I never hope to be done learning, but everything in me knows it’s time to end my studies at Columbia. Years from now when I reflect on this season of my life, I wonder what I’ll see.