For anyone who’s forgotten, we’ve had a rough time of it since September. Between high turnover rates within the university, the ever-looming specter of student debt and the fear of being unemployed at graduation, as well as perhaps most notably Superstorm Sandy and her little brother the Nor’Easter, many students and university personnel feel like we’re limping towards the end of the year.
If anyone asked me to repeat this semester, I would certainly and instantly turn them down. It’s cliche to say that you learn the most important things outside of the classroom, but cliches start out as truisms. I have learned the past few months, along with my course work in literature and communications, that reporting the news makes you unpopular, that people can be very difficult to work with, and that for every person you can rely on, you must be infinitely grateful — even if the only person you can rely on is yourself.
That’s what we’re in college for, though, to learn. So although I wouldn’t go back and live through the various storms of the past semester, I wouldn’t trade the experiences. I wouldn’t wish, as I might have done in high school, that I didn’t have to come back after break. And I certainly wouldn’t wish that the world would end.
The most important thing we can learn is that life always goes on, really, no matter what. Science says so, in words way too complex for me to understand. Theology says so, as does (most) philosophy. Literature and journalism are both created and studied in the hope that it will go on. All areas of study are done either in an effort to preserve life or to enrich it. No one of any real substance walks around being aware of their demise and preparing for it.
That’s particularly important to remember, whether you’re trying to endure the last few days of a less than enjoyable class or trying to live it up before you’re shoved out of college and into the real world of work. The world isn’t going to end, not in our lifetimes.
Take a deep breath, get through your finals, and spend the time off with your family, friends, or even with yourself. As an old friend reminds me every day, “It’s really going to be okay, I promise.”
Online Editor’s note – ‘Lessons Learned in the Fall’ was originally published in the December 12th issue of the Pauw Wow.