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the most important thing i learned in college

In my last year of college, I took intro to journalism. Yep, INTRO to Journalism just a few months before I graduated. (Sidebar: The class was mostly seniors, so I guess it’s common to save specific concentration courses for the final semesters…once all the rigorous liberal arts curriculum has been completed.) I loved this course, and it reminded why I chose my Communications/Journalism major–why after years of people telling me what a great writer I am, I put two and two together and decided to pursue something I was actually good at. A big reason why I enjoyed this class so much was the very down-to-earth professor I had. She was a Fordham alum, who started teaching after working in news radio for a while, but was still young enough to be fun and approachable.

Since the class was mostly seniors, our final session was reserved for an advice session from our professor. She gave a lot of useful advice, but one thing really stuck out to me: the pace of our lives. Until now, everyone’s lives moved at the same pace. All of my friends and I started high school at the same time. We started getting jobs and babysitting at the same time. We took driver’s ed and got our licenses at the same time. We graduated in four years, bound for college straightaway. Even though we ventured far away from one another, we all graduated on time and many of us even studied abroad the same semester. In essence, the timing of our lives lined up perfectly.

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But now, my professor said, there’s no longer a set path–things are going to start happening at a different pace for everyone. People will get married a year after graduation, or ten years after, or never. Other people will start having babies, or buying cars and houses, or move to Prague to teach English. The point is that just because someone else does one or all of these things before you, it doesn’t mean that you’re behind, or that you’re missing something or living your life wrong.

This realization was super significant for me. I always feel frantic when my friends start new relationships or get new jobs because I feel like I skipped a step, like I missed a class and now I won’t do as well on the final exam. It’s hard to sign into Facebook and see photos from someone’s bridal shower, or posts of someone else’s fancy new apartment, or hear about yet another person’s promotion at work. Just because it’s not happening to you, doesn’t mean that you’re falling behind in life (at least according to Professor J.). I’m a big believer in following my gut, and I’m also a big believer in putting my happiness first. Everything else will come when the time’s right.

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6 thoughts on “the most important thing i learned in college

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