I Didn’t Know
I recently put pen to paper (or fingertips to keyboard) to recall some of the highlights from my earliest college years (see What I Remember When I Try To Forget – Part 1 from July 2021), and in hindsight, I realize I possessed little practical knowledge at the age of nineteen. I didn’t know that college wasn’t the celebrated event that the Brat Pack gallantly left behind in St. Elmo’s Fire, I didn’t know that college classes often feel like a repeat of high school but with superfluous reading, and I didn’t know that saying, “No,” to professional requests was a viable option (see Beautiful and Tasty from March 2021). By the time I figured out these realities, I’d already left college.
Learning what is expected, versus what I aspire for myself certainly didn’t happen overnight. In fact, I tolerated quite a bit of nonsense and clutter throughout the experiences that happened from the time I graduated high school until I stumbled upon the path that turned out to be where adulthood would take me. Often the years in between being a teenager and becoming a mom felt far more like life was bumping into me than I was strategically navigating, or sometimes evading, the assault of metaphorical playground balls being bounced, and occasionally hurled, at me by life. I never enjoyed dodgeball as a child, and I certainly didn’t need it as a basis for a collegiate experience.
Writing, Yes – Interviewing, No
Of all the lessons I learned during those first three semesters of college, besides the fact that CLEP should be an integral part of the college experience, I didn’t know that journalism would not be my life’s pursuit. Of course, here I am more than thirty years later still writing, both personally and professionally, but during those early college years, I desperately needed to have a closer relationship with my muse and my internal navigational system. My work-study program required me to dabble in writing and editing, but also interviewing, a skill that in hindsight I didn’t adequately grasp. The moment of truth, exhibited by the question-and-answer session with a university alumnus, required me to sacrifice part of an already unappealing Thanksgiving break (see Conan the Hoosier from February 2012). I didn’t know back then that my time away from school could be entirely mine.
While spending time with my extended family in Cincinnati over the turkey-day holiday, I met with Emerson Quillin and failed to absorb the true flavor of the creative juices that flowed through his life. I likely asked mundane, uninteresting queries that all these years later don’t matter for shit. Once back at school I wrote the token article, published in the school newsletter or magazine, and I limped through the remaining semesters until I found the route to my real life – the one where I make the choices about what I read, how I spend my holidays, and when I would be introduced to my muse. Only a handful of lessons from college stuck, but listen, Honey, always say, “No,” whenever it suits you.