Showering off the smell of sunscreen and sweat, I trudged into my room to put on attire that would be somewhat presentable. I dumped my lemonade into a travel mug, tossed my hair into a ponytail, and grabbed my messenger bag. I inwardly whined and complained, dreading the next three hours.
The absolute last thing I wanted to be doing that beautiful summer night was going to a college class about literature and death. The dutiful student I was, however, I got in my car and sped toward the college, saying goodbye to the whimsical freedom typifying summer. I stomped into the class, my scowl matching that of several other students “stuck” taking a summer course.
Adding a year of college to earn a second degree seemed like a wise plan—until I realized I’d have to take a summer class. I was a go-getter, a dedicated academic. I had a passion for literature and learning. But a class over the summer? No thanks. I’d rather be napping on the deck reading “smutty” literature or eating ice cream by the gallon. Essays, assigned readings, and quizzes were threatening to cramp my style.
However, little did my immature twentysomething self know that class, “The Literature of Health and Healing,” would change everything.
Over the course of the summer, Dr. Neff selected works fitting the theme of health and healing—but also death, as the course title was pretty misleading. We read Tuesdays with Morrie and watched Awakenings. We read poems about aging and about cancer. We talked about bucket lists, about dreams, about time. Dr. Neff emphasized the idea that humans think they have so much time, but it’s never promised. I realized how many things I’d been putting off and how naïve I’d been to think I had forever.
And, to my surprise, something more magical than summer freedom happened. I got inspired.
One night on the drive home from class, I got to thinking about my own bucket list. The number one item on my list was to write a novel, but I’d been putting it off. I had plenty of time. Plus, who did I think I was? What made me think I could do it?
Unknowingly, though, Dr. Neff’s words and lessons helped me put pen to paper. That night, I got home, and the title Voice of Innocence came to me. I ran to my parents’ deck and started penning what would become my first published novel years later. I still have the green notebook I wrote in that summer night after class. It was all because of that class I found the motivation to pursue my passion, something totally unexpected on that first night of dragging myself to school.
Sometimes in life, the things we dread the most, the things we whine about the most, become the best things. For me, the college class that initially cramped my summer style would lead me on a new life path. I’ve found that even in adult life, things I initially dread sometimes turn into the most memorable, beautiful, or beloved things in my life.
So the next time your adviser insists you sign up for a college class that makes you want to gouge your own eyes out, breathe in and realize it will be okay. It might be more than okay.
Because college isn’t just about partying, drinking games, and wearing sweatpants to class. It’s about deciding where your life is going to go.
And you just never know what class, dreaded or not, will lead you there.
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