My high school classmates started graduating a year ago. I only see them on Facebook now; with real jobs, husbands, children or a combination of the three. Sometimes, I get jealous when they post statuses about promotions or how wonderful their new lives are post-graduation. These updates used to make me feel lonely, as if I was a failure.
Sure, I know why I’m still here. I was a foolish freshman - a cocky one too. I made decisions hastily. Back then, appearances were of the utmost importance.
When I graduated from high school, I immediately enrolled in summer classes at Southern Union. That was a smart move, perhaps the only smart move I made in the beginning. I earned all A’s and knocked out some tedious core classes, all while saving my parents some money.
As fall approached, I couldn’t wait to get to Auburn. I went through sorority rush, got in a fantastic sorority and decided on a major that very week. Looking back, that decision was really a fantasy.
My dream was the fashion industry. Furthermore, I wanted to live in Milan, Italy because it was “the fashion capital of the world.” Fashion, after all, was always something I loved. High heels and beautiful dresses clouded my thoughts, consumed my paychecks and motivated me to jump into apparel design and Italian language classes that first fall at Auburn.
Southern Union, I decided, would be where I took University core classes; so I put those off until the following summer. I assumed I could pull off another perfect semester there, so why bother taking them at Auburn?
To make a long story short, my first year at Auburn was tough. I struggled to balance my sorority obligations with work expectations. I skipped classes when attendance was optional. I was more social than studious. I even spent more time organizing my dorm closet than studying the ridiculous course load I had taken on.
So what happened? Let’s just say my GAPs were gone before I knew what hit me. My parents weren’t thrilled, but they didn’t disown me; however, that summer at Southern Union turned into fall, spring and another summer. I was beyond bitter.
Finally, I made it back to Auburn. My sorority life was squashed from inactivity; those girls forgot my name long ago. I left my part-time job to dedicate spare time to my studies, accepting that my frivolous shopping days were over.
I started out slow, registering for only two classes. I never skipped class, no matter how boring or useless they seemed. I sat on the front row every day to focus on lectures. I spent time reading, studying, making flash cards, etc. even when we weren’t being tested on that particular material.
I quickly made friends who would study with me. Well, truth be told, I forced classmates to be my friends and then study with me. I realized I learned difficult concepts best by talking about the material with them. I even tutored a few people struggling in my classes.
I changed my major to something more realistic: public relations. That choice was the hardest to finalize. I narrowed my options down my focusing on my academic strengths. The optimistic sensation felt after earning high scores in certain classes also affected my new plan.
Fearful of biting off more than I could chew, I continued to take it slow and never registered for more than four classes per semester. Eventually, I made the Dean’s List, two semesters in a row, and knew I had made the right decision.
My professors became my mentors. I felt no shame in asking redundant questions until I fully understood the answer. I visited them during their office hours often. I asked for their advice on upcoming enrollment issues. They too became my “friends.”
One day, I received an email requesting I apply for an assistant copy editor position at The Plainsman. Apparently, the editor-in-chief requested journalism teachers to recommend students with strong grammar skills. Flattered was an understatement; I beamed when I read that email. I was proud and couldn’t start soon enough.
An assistant copy editor, I came to find out, meant I was to read and correct every article before the paper goes out on Thursdays. I spent so much time in that office, reading and correcting my peers’ writing, I developed a sense of security in my new “headquarters.”
After one semester at The Plainsman, my writing improved, my grammar excelled and I knew people. I had people. I had a home and I had people.
Today, the light at the end of the tunnel draws near. I have brilliant friends, a decent resume and most importantly, I have happiness.
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