Twelve Month Journal: Year in review

As they say in Millennial-speak: What a time to be alive.

But seriously, I’m still in awe of how I’m gearing up for my second year of undergraduate education.  It feels like just yesterday I was preparing my final goodbyes and heading down Route 33 with a knot of fear and anticipation in my stomach.

Now, my clothes aren’t even packed, and the suitcases are sitting at a standstill in the corner of my childhood room –– but I’m so excited to go back to Athens in two more nights.

Gone are the days of being an ignorant freshman … but yet are still the days when I “know what I’m doing” as an upperclassmen.  I’m taking this sophomore year with stride: engaging in plenty of new opportunities and holding back nothing.  It’s my time (and yours!) to shine.

If you’re just now tuning into this special one-year anniversary post to La Bella: A Memoir, shame on you!  I’ve had an impactful, trying, taxing, and eventful first year as an E.W. Scripps School of Journalism Ohio University Bobcat.  But don’t worry: I’ve included a few highlights below, to catch you up to speed:

  1. Already into my first few days of class, I learned how to be aggressive and take advantage of every opportunity presented to me. College is not a time in your life to take lightly  –– so seize each moment and contact and evening organization meeting that you can.
  2. Unsurprisingly, I didn’t make every club or position that I applied for in the fall of my first semester.  It happens.  Not everyone is going to open a door for you, so sometimes you have to keep knocking.  Those people who want you for your skills and talents and passions will let you in, I guarantee.  Stick your nose to the ground, brush it off, and keep looking for your niche on campus.
  3. I started having major doubts in the wintertime about what exactly I saw myself doing after undergraduate.  Perhaps it was my exclusive look into the National Geographic headquarters in D.C. that sparked these gnawing questions –– or maybe it was my unsatisfactory first gig with the campus newspaper that got me thinking I don’t want to be a traditional, adrenaline-junkie journalist.  So, what does that leave for a student pursuing a journalism degree?  I have yet to discover.
  4. Each Scripps student has to decide between two academic ‘tracks’: news and information or strategic communications.  Also, each Scripps student has to declare what’s called a specialization, to make you a more marketable and intelligent individual in a specific subject, for after graduation.  In the spring, I declared my specialization as sustainability-themed political science, and I switched my track to strategic communications (typically for those pursuing PR, marketing, and advertising) after my exhausting second semester at the newspaper came to a jolting halt.  Burned out at the end of April is an understatement.

So, where does that leave me now?

This summer hasn’t been as uneventful as some may have anticipated (I did publish a book, after all) … but it sure wasn’t as hectic, nerve-inducing, or exciting as my time on campus.  I’ve reflected a lot on my summer internship at the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as the end of my spring semester, and have determined I need to implement a few changes.  Changes (that I hope) will stimulate me, challenge me, but above all make me happy to be alive and working, following my passions.  Now that the ink has dried (literally, I had to fill out lots of paperwork), these changes will take effect next week:

  1. I’m resuming my original academic track, news and information.  The more I thought about it over the summer, the more I viewed my switching to strategic communications as jumping ship, so to speak.  I used my academic track as a way to escape the horrible suffering and not-worth-it mental fatigue of working for a newspaper.  But majoring in ‘news and information’ doesn’t necessarily mean that I am REQUIRED to work for a newspaper, or any publication at all.  I view news and information now as a track for information-seekers, for explorers of knowledge.  Oh, and I don’t think I’m a public relations person, after all.
  2. I’m declaring a revised specialization: cultural anthropology/environmental geography.  I realized through my summer internship at a government organization that I just don’t belong in a corporate government job.  The only real reason I assigned my specialization to sustainability-themed political science was because of my infatuation for global politics, thanks in part to a class I took second semester.  But after not being in the class for four months, I thought to myself, “You know what? I’m not missing political science as much as I thought I would. And I’m basically minoring in it.”  So, after many hours of self-reflection, I came away appreciating my introduction to cultural anthropology class fall semester the most out of all my shiny-new course encounters.  I –– me, myself, and I –– actually enjoyed the class.  Not because other people liked it, not because other people told me I should specialize in it.  But because I enjoyed it for what it was worth.  And, of course, I have to include environmental science somewhere in my specialization, too (I’m even planning on graduating with a certificate in environmental studies).  What kind of tree hugger would I be if I didn’t?  I think that’s a good place to start, in any part of life.  Start with what satisfies your thirst; life’s too short to follow someone else’s path.

And with that, I’m ready to begin another year of learning, another year of self-discovery, another year of heart-pounding opportunities waiting around every bend.  I’m ready to say YES, I’m ready to say NO, and I’m ready to express the wonders of my heart, sharing both the good and the bad along the way.

I wish you another year of fortune, fulfillment, and –– most importantly –– happiness and content.  Valuing these two emotions, I’m finally coming to terms with, is what makes life so worthwhile.

Until next month,

BNB, xo

This post also appears on labellamemoir.tumblr.com