College is definitely a time for transition, and I’ve been feeling that a lot lately. People say childhood is the time when you have no responsibilities, when you get to play around and explore your identity, but that’s not really true at all. With all the pressure in high school to get into a good university, I haven’t really had a chance to explore what I like until now.
I registered for classes today, and my classes absolutely reflect my fluctuating feelings on what I want to do with my academic career: I’ve got International Politics, American Lit, Russian I, and an introductory Journalism class.
What does that mean? Well, currently I’m an English major, but I’d like to double major in Journalism. Then again, I might switch from English to Politics. But I want to give both of them an equal chance, so I’ve got to take International Poli as well as Am Lit, and the Journalism class.
And then there’s the Media, Culture, and Communications major at NYU Steinhardt, which I just found out about today, and which sounds like absolutely the most interesting thing in the world. You can take classes like “Queer Identity and Popular Culture”, and “Mass Persuasion and Propaganda”, and “War as Media”; you’re required to take History of Media and Communication and Introduction to Human Communication and Culture. This is the kind of stuff that is fascinating to me. This is the kind of stuff that’s always been fascinating to me, and everyone I’ve talked to says, “This major was made for you.”
Which is probably the point of college: helping you realize what you really, truly love.
High school does an awful job of this. Even though your teenage years are the time in your life when you’re searching most desperately for your identity, nobody actually bothers to present a viable identity to you; I thought of myself at different times in my life as a Writer, and a Feminist, and a Nerd, and a Theater Kid, and all of those are part of what I love to do, but none of them really encompass the whole.
The whole, I think, is: I love talking about stories.
Talking about stories is what I’m good at. Talking about stories is what I’ve been doing every single day of my life since I was old enough to understand Where the Wild Things Are. Talking about stories is what I’ve been doing with my life, and it’s what I’d like to keep doing with my life, for as long as people will let me.
I entered college as an English major because English is a major about stories, isn’t it? Except when it’s not, which is most of the time. English isn’t a major where you talk about story; it’s a major where you talk about text. You talk about technique. You talk about words, instead of talking about what they mean.
So I decided to double major in Journalism, specifically the Media Criticism concentration, because that’s a major about stories. Except it’s not; it’s, shockingly, a major about journalism. Which I love, because I love writing, but it’s not what I want.
So: do I transfer to Steinhardt? (This would present difficulties of its own; I’ve heard it’s really difficult to transfer into.) Well, God knows I’d like to. I’m actually switching from International Politics to War as Media as we speak, as one of my 4 classes I can take outside of College of Arts and Science.
But I think what’s really important for me to know is this revelation: I want to talk about stories. I want to do that with my academic career, and I want to do that with the rest of my life. Which is, probably, the kind of revelation that college is all about.