Ralph Waldo Emerson poetically wrote in his book Self Reliance about the journey of life, comparing it to a “zigzag line of a hundred tacks.” As he says, the path of life doesn’t look straight until it’s seen from a sufficient distance. This passage sticks out to me because it best identifies the concept of significance, which I have come to closely identify with through my experiences in college and my future outlook. By grasping onto specific opportunities through my tendency to say “yes,” and turning away from others, I strongly believe in Emerson’s observation that each action is somehow connected.
Through my college experiences I’ve hit some rough paths and I’ve had many glory moments, but looking back I can see how each event, each action and each opportunity I took advantage of happened for a reason. When I graduate in May of 2012, I will leave Minnesota State University Moorhead knowing that I absorbed every aspect of college in order to shape who I am today and who I will strive to be as I enter the world beyond school.
My college focus began as a search for new social experiences and lasting friendships. My perceptions of college initially were that of fun gatherings and meeting new people. As my perceptions changed to a broader, more in-depth look at my own university, I realized how many opportunities stood right in front of me. I won’t lie and say I jumped right into campus involvement, and I also won’t say that it’s the right and only path to take in college, but I strongly believe that the paradigm switch I experienced shapes the identity I’ve created for myself today. I took a look at my life and decided that I want to surround myself with people who share similar goals, drive and passion for experiences that I do. That sense of purpose led me to a group called Students Today Leaders Forever, which is an organization centered around service work, relationship-building, and leadership. My college values and personal confidence developed immensely from the experiences I gained traveling the country doing volunteer work with people who share the same passion as I do. Once I established myself in this organization, my “yes” mentality kicked in, and today that mindset has opened many doors for me, which all will aid in my career and personal development.
I’ve filled a lot of time in my college career with extra-curricular activities, and along with my school education, they are the pieces that have linked together to ultimately create my career path. I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of many opportunities I’ve encountered, and each one, whether I will follow a career directly related to it or not, serves a purpose in my life. When I thought I wanted to pursue a career in journalism, I took on the position as editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper at MSUM called The Advocate. As a sophomore, I served as the youngest editor in the history of that paper, which is an accomplishment in itself, but the lessons I learned and challenges I faced shaped new leadership and problem-solving skills that I will continue to use for the rest of my life. I decided journalism wasn’t the career path for me, but it was because of that “yes” mentality that I was able to grasp an in-depth, on-the-field look at an area of interest I was certain I wanted to pursue. Currently my biggest commitment is with the campus activities board at MSUM: Dragon Entertainment Group. I now serve as the Showcase Coordinator, which means I’m in charge of booking, planning and implementing events related to the “showy” acts, such as comedians and hypnotists. I had no idea event coordinating would turn into my passion, but because I embraced this campus job with my “yes” outlook, I entered a world of passion, motivation, and goal-setting that has pushed me in a direction towards the next step in my life.
College began as a place I wanted to stay at forever—a place of fun, friendships, school activities, and community. As I enter my last year of college, I’m steering away from those feelings of never wanting to leave and, instead, using the insight I’ve gained in the last three years as momentum for my future successes. The different paths on which I’ve set forth may have all intended for different aspirations, but my journey has progressed as a search for my own inner happiness and success. Through all the “yes’s,” and an often over-booked schedule, I’ve captured a list of goals and hopes on a personal and professional level. We can never expect anything, not until we see anything from a “sufficient distance.” I can now clearly see the route I took from the beginning of college to where it has brought me now. Each moment aided in the significance of where I am today and the goals I intend to reach as I jump into a working world.
Megan Nitschke a senior at MSUM majoring in Communication Studies and Leadership