Monday, March 2, 2015

Memoir: ...When You Least Expect It

Click. Delete. Click. Delete.

It was the normal routine while checking my OU email during my freshman year. There was one email that kept grabbing my attention—an email that I was ignoring for a reason. Since I was an undecided student, the First Year Advising Center required me to schedule a couple meetings with an adviser to figure out which path I wanted to take the rest of my schooling down.

I coasted through most of my freshman year without a worry. Class five days a week (total freshman move, right?), work on the weekend, rinse and repeat. Everything came to a halt in February, a few weeks before class registration opened. I had a brief moment of panic.

Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but I knew I had to do something about my situation. With only a couple general education requirements left, I still had at least 24 credit hours to fill during my sophomore year. The next time that reminder email came through, I was sure to schedule an appointment with an adviser as soon as possible. Little did I know scheduling the first appointment was the least of my worries.

The sun was shining, it was spring break, and I was excited to get my life sorted out. Long story short: I didn’t. That first meeting sucked. I walked into North Foundation Hall with the idea that my interests magically changed and my math/science skills improved. I just feel bad for the adviser that had to deal with my indecisiveness.  

“I was thinking about going into the healthcare field, but I suck at science,” is something close to what I told her and I probably said something similar in regards to math. At that point, I was thinking more about pleasing my parents’ wishes rather than choosing a path that aligned with my interests. In high school, I was set on going to school for graphic design. After looking into the graphic design program at Oakland and seeing how many studio art classes were required, I had flashbacks to all of the still lifes I had to complete in my high school Drawing I & II classes. I shuddered and moved on from that idea quickly. ...But I digress.

Feeling discouraged, I left the Advising Center with a handful of pamphlets and made my way home to enjoy the rest of spring break. Soon after I got an email about scheduling the second required meeting with the First Year Advising Center. I researched my options for different programs and major/minor combinations that would work best with my interests. The English program kept drawing me back to their website for some reason. Harkening back to my high school interest in graphic design/promotions, I figured advertising would make for a good minor. I wrote those ideas down at the top of my list and called the Advising Center to schedule the second and (thankfully) last meeting.

Before I knew it, it was time for round two. I confidently walked into North Foundation Hall and the Advising Center with an actual sense of direction. I met with a different adviser that day, and I’m glad I did. Our conversation was honest and candid; I learned a little bit about his background, education and how he made it work during and after the recession. He had a hard time, but his passion for his profession came through. Toward the end of our meeting, he gave me some advice that changed my outlook:

“If you’re really passionate about something, you’ll find a way to make it work.”

It was such simple advice but it really stuck with me throughout the years. After hearing just a handful of words, everything changed. I looked at school through a different lens. It was a reassuring statement that made everything seem okay for the moment. All of the stressing I’d done in the weeks before that second advising meeting and conversations with my parents (and their concerned glances) disappeared from my memory. His advice led to the a-ha moment that, in a way, changed my life.

That adviser ended up helping me more than I ever thought he would. He was a really nice guy, too, and I could tell he genuinely enjoyed helping students out. We actually ran into one another a few weeks later when he was walking to South Foundation Hall to give a class a presentation about the Advising Center. I told him I finally declared my major/minor and he happily wished me the best of luck with my future. I never saw him after that.

Ever since the meeting with that adviser, I've found new meaning in my studies. I’ve strived for success by working hard at the things I’m passionate about. So far it’s worked very well in my favor. It’s always the people you’d least expect to get inspiration from at times when you least expect it. I guess this is sort of my thank you letter to him. Now as a senior that’s quickly approaching graduation, I have no regrets about choosing my field(s) of study. I think 2012 me would be proud of 2015 me. If I had a time machine, I'd let you know for sure.


  1. First off congrats on finishing this project because writing about yourself can be tough however you pulled it off quite well. You provide a really interesting hook for your reader and the bait of "Click. Delete. Click. Delete." was too hard for me to resist. I found your voice equal parts the moral voice of reason and the sarcastic college student which is an interesting blend. I found your memoir relatable and universal because what college student hasn't procrastinated, panicked, and persevered?

    I do wish that you had maintained the level of snark you began with because by the end of the memoir I felt like I was reading a parable with the predictable ending of, "and it all worked out, I discovered my passion and thus myself." The tone of moral reason definitely took over near the end of your memoir and I found myself missing the sarcastic college student that seemed to be replaced by an adult that had their shit together.

    Overall you have crafted a well rounded memoir that you should be proud of.

    1. Hi there! Thanks for your feedback--I appreciate it. I also appreciate you appreciating my snark. Sometimes I took a step back and asked myself if it was really necessary in some parts of the memoir, so I'm glad to hear you would've liked to see more of it.

  2. Nice job sharing your story; don't rule out integrating more storytelling elements.