Thinking About The Future

I don’t know what I’m doing with my life. This seems to be my only thought since fall semester ended last week. Instead of the semester ending with me knowing how good (or bad) I did in my classes, I was left hanging in one of them. None of the grades I made mattered much to me, except for that dreadful C I earned in British Literature. For a week I have only thought about those last two papers that determined my final grade. I have done nothing but replay the whole semester in my head, and let the stream of questions I’ve had time to come up with since then, consume me. Right now, I think if I replay the semester through writing, I can answer some of these questions on my own. Some of the most pressing questions are: Does writing really fit into my life? If so, what type of writing? Do I still love it enough to make a career of it? I’ll begin at the moment I decided I was going to have a two-week period of major freaking out.

I was sitting in the library, pulling research from books and academic journals for the annotated bibliography that would be due in a couple of weeks (before I knew we would get a rolling due date). While sifting through the gigantic piles of notes I jotted down over the last few days, I began to panic from the realization that I had no clue what I was doing. Before that day, I went through a stage of self-doubt for two weeks after my first paper in British Literature. I received a C on a closed reading paper – C meaning, catastrophe. The whole paper, starting with sentence structure, choice in words, poor choice in quotes…the list goes on. The truth is, I panicked. It didn’t help much that my instructor looked like a terrifyingly tall man, with strict facial features and a strong accent that wasn’t from around here. He looked like he stepped right out of Germany, and later my thoughts were validated when he soon described his German descent.

Okay, so I wasn’t 100% correct. He’s not from Germany, his family is. Close enough though. From the first day of class, I was afraid to approach him, but knowing it was inevitable that I’d need his help, I stopped at the bottom of the stairs after class one day until the heavy clumpclumpclump of those heavy boots drew nearer. Then appeared my instructor. I took a deep breath and called his name. I set up an appointment during his office hours and decided I was getting ahead this semester. I was getting all the advice I needed, and I was going to ace this class.

Surprisingly, the man wasn’t as hard to talk to as I thought he would be. He looked terrifying and mean on the outside, but as the first weeks of the semester raced by, I learned that he was one of the instructors that was truly there to help. He was interested in his students’ gripes and concerns, as well as doubts, and was determined to do all that he could to wipe all that negativity out, but he never left out the harsh reality. He never sugar-coated the truth, but he did offer any solutions to problems we students were facing in our writing processes. I always went into the English department nervous. I would sit down across from my instructor, let him read over my first (of many) drafts, and bite my nails, my bottom lip, or the inside of my jaw. I would watch in horror as he marked up the page and spewed out suggestions, or tried to guess where I wanted to go with my paper. That’s what always broke me down – going to meet him with no clear thesis, or no idea where I wanted to go at all with my paper.

With that C in mind, and the sheer realization that I had just spent two weeks wallowing in self-doubt, I began to panic that I would also make the same catastrophic grade on the annotated bibliography. With that, I gathered all my notes, along with the sources I printed off, and stuffed them away in my bag. I would think about this again the next day. Two weeks later, I have four days until it is due, and I’m pulling all nighters just to get the thing knocked out. Right after I turn it in, I have a research paper and a final paper to plan. I couldn’t believe I spent a month and a half wasting time, and with little over two weeks to write two papers. I didn’t have time to go through the proper writing process for either paper, and on the day of the final exam, I turn the papers in, both of them the first and final drafts. I leave class knowing I won’t pass British Literature with anything above a C. My heart feels heavy, but I know it’s my own fault.

The next day, I take my last exam, head to the library to sign onto my account, and check my final grades. My final grade for British Literature was what I expected, and even though it didn’t come as a surprise, I felt tears gathering in my eyes. The grade in any other class wouldn’t hurt me so much, but receiving it in a subject I felt was so dear to me, broke my heart into a million pieces. I logged off the computer, went outside to a secluded spot and thought about what this final grade meant to me. Clearly, I could no longer consider making a career out of writing, especially in a teaching career, which I have thought about for years.

That doesn’t mean writing no longer fits into my life, which is the answer to my first question. I will always love it, but to be perfectly honest with myself, I do not think I’ll make a career of it, meaning: journalism, teaching, writing books, etc. The type of writing I will more than likely ever commit to, is blogging and personal journal writing. That does not mean I will give up majoring in English or even maybe mastering in it as well. I love the subject too much to stop at the basic understanding of the subject. My career of choice (whatever it may be), will most definitely center around English. I’ve probably dreamed of becoming a librarian more than dreamed of becoming a successful writer. I love the college setting, especially in a small community such as the one I’m in now. If I could work in a college library for the rest of my life, I’d be extremely happy.

Reflections

Fall semester of college is over, and after receiving my grades, I went outside, sat in one of my new favorite spots and reflected. Overall I’m proud of the grades I’ve made in my classes. I could have done better in one of them, but I decided there would be room to grow and do better next semester. However, I do not want to start setting high expectations of myself, or setting new goals. I’ve learned very quickly that doing this does nothing but bring disappointment. So, as of now I accept the grades I have received, and have decided that nothing else will do but to go with the flow next semester. Over the past four months, I have learned many things relating to school and personal life:

  • C’s still get degrees (though I will still continue to fret over future assignments and papers).
  • Most (but not all, haha) Instructors are not there to demonize and destroy dreams, they are actually there to help and love to know their students can think for themselves.
  • I will not always be accepted for who I am, and that’s okay.
  • There are people out there who ask for advice and really only want to be told how intelligent they are (sorry, but I’m not a flatterer).
  • Friendships do not always develop with people who are on the exact same page on every aspect of life. It’s okay to disagree with someone, as long as it’s done respectfully.

This isn’t all. I’ve learned many things, I’ve just lost my train of thought, which is probably for the better. But among them all (including these listed), I have realized that while learning is fun, having intellectual conversations with someone who can converse rationally is gratifying, and thought-provoking class discussions are important, God is more important! It’s so easy to put all faith in one person, and to lean on education to get through in life, and while people and education are great tools for success in careers, It is important to take a moment to thank God for putting those people in one’s life, and giving them a way to get that education.

That being said, I’m extremely grateful for all the connections I was able to make this semester with the staff of the college. They are all very insightful and helpful, and genuinely care about the connections they make with their students. Talking and interacting with different people has helped me gain better insight on how certain things operate, and learning of a couple of my instructor’s experiences has given me the courage and confidence I need to take those next steps into the direction of my selected career.