In the Autumn of 1998 I began my freshman year at Southwest Missouri State University (now and henceforth known as Missouri State). I attended with the intention to pursue a degree in creative writing. And yet, it never occurred to me that I didn’t need to go to college, at least not directly after high school.
I continued my college career until 2002, where I just stopped going, a few credit hours short of graduation. In truth, I never had a great heart for college, and what interest I had was diminished by the end of my junior year. Sure, I enjoyed some of the experiences and made some good friends but I never put much effort into my education. I was perceptive and intelligent enough to be able to retain enough information from lectures to get by with a C average. But I hardly cracked a book and almost never studied past my freshman year. I was in love with the romantic notion of learning but not the concept of hard work. Thus, when all reserves were burned out, I quit. I never made the active decision to quit, I just stopped registering for class. I regretted not finishing what I started, but I never regretted not getting a degree.
It has been nine and a half years since attending classes, and I am re-applying for Missouri State. In these nine years, I have received something I desperately needed. I experience life unsheltered by parents and the artifice of college. I needed to see how difficult life could be. In my post-college years I went from one food service job to another, even being unemployed for various periods.
These years have given me something else I needed, which was time to think. I have come to a conclusion about my life up to this point. It has been marked by reaction rather than action. Stephen Covey, in his wildly popular Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, pays tribute to the concept of being proactive. By this, he means we must recognize the ability we have to choose our actions. We must choose to act, not to react. My entire life has been somewhat passive. I respond as things occur. I have rarely pursued anything. So, when I graduated from high school, I merely did what my parents and society expected of me. I went to college. I pursued the degree I figured I would always pursue: creative writing. I never chose these things, and I never had any passion for either.
After spending my time in various dead-ends, spiritually, emotionally, and even career-wise, I have decided to really put some thought and effort into living. Reacting isn’t living. My circumstances probably won’t change if I just react. I may have a wife that I love and I may have a job in a time when many people find themselves unemployed, but on a deeper level, I haven’t been happy for a long time. Life will never change if I continue to react to my circumstances. No, I don’t have any guarantee of success. I may continue to be at the same income level for the next decade. I may even be rejected in my application. But if I don’t try, I guarantee the status quo.
Saturday night I submitted my application for re-admission to Missouri State University. I will be changing my major from a bachelor of arts in Creative Writing to a bachelor of science in Professional Writing. I have become more interested in the technical aspects of writing, particularly communicating ideas. Professional and Technical Writing are more marketable than Creative Writing. And truth be told, I don’t need a degree in Creative Writing to write a novel. I just need talent, which I have. It is discipline that I need, and I have been slowly learning that over the past year by consistently writing both here and on The Edwardian Adventurer. In addition to marketability, technical writing classes will help me with a book collaboration that I am currently in.
I hope to find out how the application goes in the next few weeks. I’m eyeing courses and plotting a tentative schedule to balance school, work, and writing. The future looks busy.
But it also looks bright.