Four Years

Four years. I made it out in four years. College was great in ways, but I can’t say that I understand why people romanticize it. I had senioritis from day one of freshman year.

School always seemed like a roadblock to actually accomplishing something. I gained some good experiences and opportunities, but an amount of time was listening to droning, hour-long rehashes of the same information it took 15 minutes to read or a enduring a 20 minute rant in response to the ever-present question, “what’s going to be on the test?”

That’s why I wasn’t a straight-A student. I studied art and journalism. It was a surprisingly uncommon combination at MTSU, considering the relationship between both disciplines, the shared interest in documenting and commenting on society, and the mutually moderate levels of cynicism.

I sent my résumé and work samples out as the end of my final semester was approaching. I got calls back within hours and had an interview the next day. I accepted a job three weeks before the semester ended.

This isn’t about how terrible higher education has become or about how lucky I was to get a job right out of college (higher education is terrible and I was very lucky). For all the wasted time, I gained a few important things. I gained friends and a few mentors. I had so many opportunities to make my own luck and other opportunities that simply fell into my lap.

I interned with the University’s marketing department, worked with the local newspaper to sell advertisements for the campus paper, managed an ad campaign, hosted an on-campus event, led in rebuilding a student organization, and made an impression on quite a few faculty members and industry leaders.

I have a lot to show for my time at MTSU, but I still wonder if I have as much to show for the last four years as I really should. I’m not proud of many of my projects because the constraints of assignments (whether topic, time frame, or supplied materials) didn’t always allow for great work. Professors rarely gave assignments that would allow for portfolio building, nor did they seem to care that their class might not be the most important thing in the world.

My senior portfolio should have been better. It could have been better. Most assignments should have been smaller, less time-consuming, and more focused. Others should have allowed wider exploration and better expression of personal ideas and goals. Side projects should have been encouraged more, and the final portfolio should have taken a more forefront role in both journalism and art classes. There should have been more opportunities to be recognized for things other than academics.

I never got a chance to intern off campus. Between working to support myself and the coursework, I could’t afford an unpaid internship. I’ve been set up with a fantastic foundation of training and given amazing opportunities, but the ability to make the most of the training and opportunities just wasn’t what it could have been.

So here’s to a year of proving myself, a year of making up for lost time, a year of making something out of the ideas that have been bubbling in my mind for the last four years. Here’s to a year of big things. While I have a lot under my belt, I’ve lost way too time. It’s about time I actually get to do something.

Failing, Gracefully

Sometimes we just have no other option than to give up. Failure is a part of this world we live in. Knowing how and when to let yourself fail is an important thing to know. I wish I could figure it out.

I’m not a quitter. I’m a get stuff done-er. I like to do things. I don’t like free time. I’m super hard on my self. I am a perfectionist as well as an over-achiever. Much to Alyssa’s frustration, I run myself ragged doing things rather than just relaxing like I probably should.

Last year, I had an interesting experience with being forced into taking a step back, rather than a step up: I had to give on two major things. I didn’t exactly quit, but I had to let go.

First it was a very short-lived career as a server at Carrabba’s, then it was a drawing II class. They were such hard decisions. I occasionally – rarely (more often than I want to admit) – bite off more than I can chew, and unfortunately I don’t like admitting that. Not one bit. Maybe it’s my hereditarily large ego. Whatever the reason, I felt like I was quitting, even though I really just dialing back my commitment level to a somewhat reasonable level.

Learning to fail at things is one of the toughest lessons I’m still trying to learn. I don’t like giving up, backing down, or walking away. But sometimes that’s exactly what I need to do.