Yesterday, I picked up my alumni ALLCard as well as the letter I wrote to myself during the last day of Manresa 2014. My Manresa group name was “Uranus,” so there were a few freshman-level jokes in there, but the most interesting part was looking at where freshman Jess thought she would end up.
Turns out, the future I’d envisioned for myself wasn’t so far from where I’m actually at now. “I see myself graduating with an English degree in 2018,” I wrote from the basement of Brockman, where our group met.
“Maybe I’m Editor-in-Chief of the Newswire.” However, despite the fact that both of those things are true now—I am graduating with a degree in English, and I’ve been the editor-in-chief of the Newswire for the last two years—the journey to get from there to here looked a lot different from what I thought it might.
Like most incoming freshmen (when I was a freshman, “first-year” was a very new and not-yet-generally-accepted term), I had a very distinct idea of what college would be like. I’d seen the depictions of dorm life and independence in movies and read about them in books, and all of the alums who came back to my AP English class seemed to have similar stories to share. I imagined that I would arrive on campus, kiss my parents goodbye and immediately start my life as a “college student.”
That wasn’t the case.
The first few months of school were really hard for me. I didn’t connect with anyone in my Manresa group beyond just saying “hi” in passing, and it felt like everyone else had. I struggled with finding where I fit in this completely new environment where before I’d always known. I wrote in my freshman letter that maybe I’d be the editor-in-chief of the Newswire come senior year because I’d been the editor-in-chief of my high school paper, but it took me until second semester that first year to work up the courage to even attend a meeting. Once I did, though, my place at Xavier that seemed so out of focus and uncertain became a little clearer.
That’s super cliché, I’m aware, but it’s also true.
Before you come to college, you think that this is a chance to reinvent yourself. You’ll be outgoing now when before you were an introvert.
Your friend group in high school was small, but in college, you’ll be the life of the party. Speaking of parties, in college you’ll constantly be going out—weekends, weeknights, weekdays, it doesn’t matter—when in high school you’d been shocked that someone had beer in their trunk at prom.
Those are all examples that apply to me, but I think generally everyone plans to change something about themselves in some way as part of the “college experience.” From my experience, though, college isn’t a time for reinvention. It’s a time to hit your stride. You’re good at something. You always have been. Maybe it’s socializing or playing video games or doing math that incorporates the alphabet or running a newspaper. Whatever it is, college is the time to figure out how what you’re good at factors into the rest of your life.
I’m still an introvert, I can still count my number of truly close school friends on one hand and although I do dabble in craft beer, I’m still not much of a drinker.
None of that changed during the course of the last four years. Instead, I focused in on what I love and what I’m good at, which culminated in my becoming editor-in-chief of the Newswire.
Through the Newswire, I met some truly great people, learned a whole lot about my work and myself and secured the skills I know I’ll need to be successful (in any capacity) in the future.
When I think about how I’ve spent my time in college, I think it can be pretty well summarized by one quote spoken by the wisest TV character ever created, Ron Swanson: “Never half-ass two things, whole-ass one thing.”
You’re good at something. Find it, whole-ass it and the rest will fall into place.
Jess Griggs is a senior English major and the outgoing Editor-in-Chief for the Newswire from Lafayette, Ind.