Walking around campus this week, I realized it’s changed.
Three and a half years ago, I joined The Miami Hurricane team as an unseasoned designer. When I first wandered through the forest green door into the newsroom, everything was unfamiliar – the people on the masthead, the fancy iMacs, the late-night deadlines.
Soon enough, my life became rooted amid the palm trees. I learned exactly which curved path to take to Memorial, the names of the trees in the arboretum and how to clean myself up for your run-of-the-mill Obama event. In the newsroom, picas and nut graphs became a second language.
But my college career – and my career at the paper – ushered in its fair share of mistakes. I should have, for instance, dedicated an ounce of effort to my environmental statistics course.
But mistakes are necessary. They’re how you grow. How you’re humbled. I needed to dream about egalitarianism to learn about my style of leadership. I needed to build a relationship with Miss Betty to realize that I should also prioritize schoolwork. I needed to make inexhaustible to-do lists to realize that we don’t have as much time as we think we do.
My advice to all of you? Make these mistakes. Do things that make you uncomfortable. Take risks. Think big. Ask questions. Take a queer literature course. Sit under a tree and write a poem. Go to a lecture you don’t understand about the Arab Spring. Carry around a Moleskine – or, say, a reporter’s notebook. And do a lot of scribbling.
Universities are paradigms for open mindedness, diverse dialogues and edgy research. They establish the discourse. But they don’t represent the infamous real world, where bills pile up on icy doorsteps. As students in this terminate microcommunity, we have an opportunity to shape the conversations about issues we care about.
So care about something. Don’t simply stumble blindly from year to year – be an active citizen of the university, of the world. Arm yourselves with the tools you need to think critically. You’re more than just a statistic – than one in seven billion, than a grade or an SAT score. And each one of you is privileged, because you’ve landed a spot at a premier university. Admit this privilege, harness it and – in the South Florida spirit – start making waves (and be willing to get in trouble).
On the same token, don’t define yourself by a label. Black, Iron Arrow, straight, Muslim – these words aren’t you. This language creates relationships based in hate, which are unsustainable. It ignores the nuances that differentiate you from the Jane Doe sitting caddy corner from you in your 10 a.m. linguistics class. It ignores the fact that you prefer your coffee black, and that you know all the words to – this is embarrassing – “Stronger (What Doesn’t Kill You).”
To those of you who were supportive through thick and thin, I wish you the best of luck. To our readers, stay informed. All of you changed me for the better, and I thank you.
As I walk back through that forest green door 178 issues later, I’ve come to understand that small things make me happy. Smudged newsprint. Crunchy peanut butter. Unmade beds.
A final nugget of knowledge: Find your passions – yes, plural – but don’t be afraid to hit the pause button every once and a while. Time doesn’t wait for you to catch up with it.
Allison Goodman is a senior majoring in ecosystem science and policy, and women’s and gender studies.