~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Well! Today marks the middle of my second week back to college. I’m still in the middle of processing the switch from working and writing all summer to actually being busy. Now, I’m working, reading, writing and attending school full-time in order to finish up my fantastic minors, and thus my degree. I’m reminded of Kvothe, and his journey through University, and so once again, it is time to use quotes by Pat Rothfuss to help me tell my story and reflect a little on my journey so far.
“It was only then I realized I didn’t know the name of Elodin’s class. I leafed through the ledger until I spotted Elodin’s name, then ran my finger back to where the title of the class was listed in fresh dark ink: “Introduction to Not Being a Stupid Jackass.” I sighed and penned my name in the single blank space beneath.”~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
I’m in my fifth and final year of undergraduate school, and I am looking into graduate programs and trying to figure out the whole “getting a better job” bit as I go along. It’s a lot of stress, and it reminds me of when I first started school. I had taken a year off for some rather unfortunate reasons, and ended up feeling out of place after a year of nearly full time work in between graduation and freshman year. I didn’t speak if I didn’t have to and dropped classes that required group presentations that first semester. I had friends I would talk to, but the academic process just felt so strange to me after being away from it so long.
I mean, looking back now, I can see the way some freshmen are testing the waters of this new university experience — I can see how confused they are. I can tell when they are afraid to say or do the wrong things. Maybe they even feel a bit like I did at the time– that they are alone suffering the awkwardness. I’m now unconvinced that the fear I held back then is any different than theirs, but before this year? I, of course, thought mine was worse.
“Knowing your own ignorance is the first step to enlightenment.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Times have changed for me since that awkward first year. I’ve been a teacher’s assistant, taught a few workshops and won a couple of contests — including one where I memorized and performed a spoken word piece. Yeah. I still can’t even believe it. And hey, even though everyone and their brother that has anything to do with college and academic planning advocate for a four year program — I think I really needed this extra year. At the end of last year, I figured out mostly who I am and what I need to do. I accepted a lot of my fear and a bunch of my self-confidence issues and decided to start moving past all that negativity. So this year feels like it should for me — my last year of college. I can take it easy if I want, finally, after spending the last four so nervous about everything.
“You never do things the easy way, do you?” she said. “There’s an easy way?” I asked.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Sure, the fifth year costs money nobody really has, and had I known that financial aid cuts off after four years (because apparently every single student is exactly the same in terms of how they learn and grow as people…) I may have tried not to cry about (and thus end up failing and/or dropping) my Foreign Language courses so much. I might have stuck with my old set up — a dual major in English & Creative Writing. But everything happens for a reason, no? I wonder who I would be and what I would have accomplished if I hadn’t made changes and hit these obstacles. First, the year between High School & College — and now, the additional year before graduate school. I think that, for the most part, this is going to be a good experience. The diversity in my coursework now, versus the first three years of school is important to whatever narrative is being written about my future. I don’t know exactly. I might be a tarot reader, but I don’t think it works that way, after all.
My family tells me that when my uncle Roy went to school, he seemed to stay forever. He took a while and worked his ass off and finally ended up being this wicked cool phlebotomist. They called him a professional student because of how long it took to achieve what he needed to achieve. (And, in Pat Rothfuss’s books, there’s a student named Manet who has remained in the university for 30 years.) I believe that it doesn’t matter how long it takes to achieve any goal, so long as you are always working towards it. Maybe you even learn more when you work at your own pace.
“It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
I want to be a writer. I want to tell stories and share them with the world, and despite this world we live in, and how futile it seems to pursue this goal, I know now that if I give up, it will be as if I cut out part of my own soul. I have overcome so much and I have gotten so far, and I can’t wait to read the next chapter of this narrative I’ve been creating with every decision.
I can’t say I know how to be successful. I can’t guarantee that I will indeed become successful, but I can promise now that I will try my hardest to keep going. I have to. The world needs this story. I need this story.
“The seeds of the past bear fruit in the present.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear