Last semester, I found myself challenged in ways I have not been before. I had a lot on my plate and was certainly juggling a busier schedule than I ever have before, and it was hard. I worked for the first time during an academic year. I had my heaviest course load thus far. I was in courses in areas which demand thought patterns I do not typically think in (aka philosophical concepts). I endeavored into the world of French and often found myself saying or thinking je ne sais pas, which I imagine will be the case for a lot of this semester as well. I didn’t make straight A’s. I didn’t perform at the level I expect from myself, but even more disappointing, I’m not sure that I absorbed knowledge at the level I expect myself to. Even still, there were definitely lessons learned— life lessons.
I had to really face my humanness and finiteness. I had to finally face the inevitable B, and everything that such a grade represents in my mind: imperfection. I can’t say that I’m thrilled about it, but I’m still breathing and still learning and still growing. The world didn’t end, and neither did my academic career.
I attended a lecture last Thursday night, a lecture on racial diversity in higher education. It was a thought-provoking lecture, and in the end I was very thankful that I took the time to go. I only did so, however, because I found out Wednesday that I was very strongly encouraged to go as part of one of my courses. Anyway, the point is that I really didn’t want to go out in the rain and walk across campus to the location of the lecture and then have to sit there and be attentive and you know, learn more stuff. But I did it, mostly because I kind’ve had to.
Somewhere about halfway through the lecture, it hit me: I am so blessed to be sitting in a warm room learning from a scholar who has taken his time to fly across the country to share his knowledge with us. Those kinds of opportunities don’t present themselves every day, especially once you get outside of the world of academia. The opportunities that I am being presented with to engage with intelligent minds and experts in various fields are not available to just anyone. Many of these talks happen on campus and are so very easily accessible to us seeing as it only takes ten minutes max to get from one end of campus to the other.
Instead of grumbling about having to go to this lecture, I needed to be grateful for the chance to grow and be taught. That is the attitude I want to have this semester, an attitude of growth and taking advantage of opportunities given to me. College is a once in a lifetime experience (not because people can’t go back to school, but because of the time of life your typical fresh-outta-high-school undergraduate student is in). So much freedom, so little responsibility, so much knowledge so readily available. It is a privilege to be able to focus all of my energy on learning and to be in an environment that is designed to foster just that.
So with all of that said (or should I say rambled?), here are some pictures of me enjoying the not-so-academic-opportunities that college life presents to students: