What ho, chaps?
Boy oh boy, am I writing from a jubilant position today. There have been many victorious moments in my life, but few so triumphant as what occurred this past Thursday evening.
I finished my bachelor’s degree program.
As in, I graduated university for the first time and officially have a bachelor of science in English and Writing.
I literally couldn’t say anything after submitting that last assignment on Thursday evening. I hit that submit button, fell back on my bed, and let out the breath I’d been holding for the last four years.
Friends, it has been a very eventful past four years. I’ve learned so much. I’ve cried a lot. I’ve also consumed irregular amounts of coffee. Apart from all that, my first four years of university have been the best years of my life. I’m beyond thankful for the experience that has been my bachelor’s degree program.
College is a crazy time. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever tackled, but it’s been worth it 100%.
I’ve grown so much.
When I first went in to college at fifteen (*coughs*), I had a more limited view of the world than I do now. I can honestly say that I went in to college seeing all of life one way, and now, after intentionally digging in to my classes and opportunities, I see things in a wholly new way. Things feel bigger. My brain feels like it got thrown into an open space in which it can run in fifty different directions. And I never actually felt like my thinking was limited before going in to uni.
And it feels good.
That’s probably the most cliché thing any college student has ever said, so let me flesh that out a bit.
A lot of students go in to college thinking that the world is one way and incredibly straight forward. They have opinions, ambitions, and goals for their lives that they don’t see changing anytime soon. But college makes you realize things aren’t the way you thought they were. Goals and ambitions and even dreams change. We realize that the world we live in and the multitudes of people in it are a lot more nuanced than we realized. As a student, I’ve met so many people, felt so many emotions with them, learned myriad of lessons with them, and they’ve all made me such a multi-faceted person.
I have nothing whatsoever against pre-college Emily. She was a stellar kid who knew so much for her age, but still had many lessons to learn, all of which she shouldered valiantly as a young university student.
My pre-college upbringing enabled me to dare to grow as a student. I have my parents to thank for my free-thinking and analytical approach to life and for the amount of growth I underwent in college. It’s only because of them that I even got started doing university classes as a fifteen-year-old. I love you guys so much, and I owe you everything.
All the lessons I learned in uni were learned with you both always cheering me on.
I’ve learned the importance of staying silent . . . the importance of listening. And as I listen, I consider. I mull things over. I’ve learned to patiently listen to stories that at first glance might not seem worth listening to. I’ve learned to make an effort to step in another’s shoes. I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that it’s okay to disagree and it’s also okay to change an age-old opinion.
And, I also might add that I had the insane revelation the experts . . . aren’t really experts. Professors and doctors and “experts” are still learners. They know so much, and yet there’s so much they don’t know. I love that about university. It demystified the academic elite, and it made me realize that everyone’s figuring things out and still researching just like I am.
Neil deGrasse Tyson’s quote pretty much sums up this college revelation: “One of the great challenges in this world is knowing enough about a subject to think you’re right, but not enough about the subject to know you’re wrong.” That’s every professor and doctor at a university—still figuring out that they’re wrong about so many things. And that’s just . . . awesome.
That’s not even mentioning what college has done for my artistic identity.
My artistic views have changed considerably, and I’ve discovered a deeper love of writing stories steeped in realism and philosophy. My writing has transformed from early, amateurish attempts at allegorical fantasy and become more of a realist approach to literary fiction and psychological thriller
(that I sometimes try way too hard to make symbolic).
My literary tastes have expanded to include new favorites: Russian realist/existentialist literature, Middle English epics, and the contemporary psychological novel. My elitist love of the literary canon classics definitely still exists, but I’m learning to appreciate modern classics like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Goldfinch, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Shūsaku Endō’s Silence, and even the sarcastic yet somehow profound Douglas Adams’s A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Reading literature has become an active form of studying art, and it’s unquestionably tied to my writing, which I see as my artistic medium.
As an artist, I’ve learned that making art and the act of worshiping God are . . . kind of the same thing. For me, anyway. No longer do I associate art with the “secular” as I used to. In fact, the lines between sacred and secular have completely disappeared. Art and theology are inseparable. Everyone’s art says something about their personal theology. And I see my entire life—everything I do—as one big opportunity to live wholly for Christ, for truth, and for beauty. This includes my art.
Reading Makoto Fujimura’s Culture Care radically transformed my art philosophy. Artist friends, read it now.
Let me also take a minute to talk about some of the amazing students I’ve met.
I’ve met some amazing students (and professors) during my university years, many of whom I’m still friends with (and will probably stay friends with for a long time). Obviously my pals from Oxford weren’t technically fellow uni students, but I met them during my second summer of university, and they have still stayed very close to my heart.
However, a good chunk of my bachelor’s degree took place online (thanks, corona), but that didn’t stop the formation of two memorable friendships. In fact, I made two incredible friends through online university.
Allow me to shine a brief spotlight on the incredible Preston and amiable Audrianna: I love you guys so much.
Audrianna, meeting you in that novellas class last year started one of the best friendships of my life, and I love you so much. Our talks are the best, and I could go on and on about theology and art with you for hours (like we did yesterday 😂). Our old-timey letter writing and poetry exchanges are the BEST. You’re such a beautiful kindred spirit, and I’m so thankful for you.
I’d like to take a moment to promote this girl’s gorgeous blog, The Scripted Wallflower. Go subscribe and leave a comment over there! She’s a truly vibrant soul!
And Preston, sharing our favorite films, music tastes, and having Honest Young People Life Talks™ has been so fun, encouraging, and soul-filling. I’m honestly so thankful for your friendship. You’re a bona fide best bro, and you really can get me to laugh super hard 😂. Also, I still owe you one for watching Apocalypto at my behest. You’re the best. 👏🏽
Having these beautiful people along for the college ride has been the best, and I’m so thankful for all of you.
I’m thankful for those of you who are sticking with me and seeing me into this new chapter of my life. Especially because I have no idea where I’m going. And that’s okay.
One thing that college has really shown me is that I have no idea what I’m going to do. I have tons of ideas, sure. And I know that some will be more probable than others. But, the future is still unknown even after finishing my first college degree.
And . . . that’s okay.
As an artist and a human being, I feel like I’ll be saying that for the rest of my life. But, I’m honestly okay with it.
And that brings me to my next point.
I’ve decided to keep going.
I’ve finished my bachelor’s degree, but the love of learning just hasn’t left yet, and I’m diving headfirst into my master’s degree program at the end of next month.
I have a job, I’m paying for my graduate tuition, and while I set off on this second leg of higher education, I’m taking notes and learning as I go. I’m ready to start growing all over again.
I actually paid my fall tuition payment this morning (*where does the money actually go??*) and it feels so refreshing to be starting anew.
I intend to further study Dostoevskian fiction during my masters, especially in respect to theodicy and the problem of evil. That was the entire premise of my bachelor’s thesis, where I (to put it vaguely) screamed about Ivan Karamazov and objective morality for twenty-five pages. It was a fun time, and I really want to dig into that more.
And now that I’m vaccinated and COVID seems to be winding down somewhat, I’ll finally be back in the physical classroom! I couldn’t be more excited!
All that to say, I’m done, and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful for everything I’ve learned, both on and off the uni campus. 😉