Nothing is going as planned.
Is it just me, or do those words never seem to combine in a way that is comforting? If the doctor says those words, you brace yourself for an overnight. If the plumber says those words, you take a deep breath (and don’t take another one) and run for the mop. If the CIA operative in your favorite thriller flick says those words, your popcorn-munching hand is petrified midway in the transport of the next buttery mouthful. They herald suspense with a touch of panic.
Then why don’t I feel panicked? Pulse? Steady. Palms? Not sweaty. And my snacking hand is operating splendidly these days. Yet, I feel I can honestly say that nothing is going as planned.
To take an inventory of all the unplanned: The bike is napping in the garage thanks to Jack Frost’s tantrum of the last week. My once sterile dorm room is now plastered with posters and dirty laundry – I’m unwinding enough to actually live on this campus (not an adjustment I take likely). I’ve met crazy wonderful new people. I joined a barbershop group. I am resting from the Running Club. I found a new church. There is a wealth of unplanned minutia… then there is the big one.
Introducing myself to new members of the international mentoring group I’ve come to love, I could no longer say with confidence: “I am a multimedia journalism major.” That sentence is the very recipe for simplicity and identity. Subject-Verb-Object. But, haltingly, I realized it’s no longer applicable to me.
So, instead I dug in my handy-dandy bag of helpful phrases and announced with a lighthearted air that I am “in a state of flux.”
No, I don’t happen to be immune to the feeling of WHATSGOINGON that strikes a gal when she has a Copernicus moment and realizes the Solar System of Common Sense she once knew revolves in an entirely new way. I twitched. But, for those who are sitting dumbfounded reading that the journalist is now reconsidering: Hear me out.
My great big realization really wasn’t so very big. Yep, Copernicus still holds the trump card here. Frankly, I was just uncomfortable! I have a thing for words, so much so that an especially euphonious phrase, a batch of alliteration, or a word such as “serendipity” can make me geekishly, incomparably cheerful. I could be wooed by a dictionary. But journalism these days is a blend of many trades, not just word-based storytelling.
For now, I just can’t stomach the idea of a 24/7 attentiveness to a globe both petty and ideal or a trade dependent on both language and layers of technology. I’m still a columnist for my paper and a writer for our student magazine. I’m still enjoying the chance to dabble in the stories of humanity, even if my journalist badge is tarnished a bit by doubt. Yet, I’m backpedaling.
My point (pardon me for taking so long to meander my way to it) isn’t that I’m uncertain.
It’s that a journey without a destination is no fruitless trek. In the words of the epic J. R. R. Tolkien: “Not all who wander are lost.” The day I switched out of my Multimedia Reporting class and into an altogether new Intro to Sociology lecture, I felt some flood of sensation dead-center in the spectrum of whacky college-kid emotions. I don’t believe they make a word for such a thing, so prone are we to extremes.
As the days rolled on, I realized that being in a “state of flux” was code for “an absolute blast” in this life of mine. I realize now that I had never possessed a certainty of my trade, and the effort of pouncing directly on some skittish life-plan was draining. I’m sure that the badge “Undecided” won’t impress a lot of my readers. It might seem like a cop-out. It might seem irresponsible.
But, when you’re walking on air what care do we have for the thorns in our feet? Judgment is sore, for certain. But there is no more pressure of an academic mismatch, so I have swapped a great ache for a pinch. A pinch to wake me up!
Renaissance. That age-old term means something new to me now. With every measure of honesty, I don’t remember a feeling better than that of these days after the Big Switch. It was the laughter that bubbles happily from one’s heart when they run down the unlimited expanse of a hotel hallway, bare feet hardly flirting with the carpet. It was an overflow.
Somehow, I imagine I know what it would be to be an explorer. Boundaries still exist. In college, they take the form of time and expense. But what I do within those borders has become so much more than the narrow roadmap of a decided major. I’m roaming, and I love it.
Pardon the sappiness. My campus has been frozen by a dusting of white and a wind-chill that quite literally froze my post-shower hair to my scalp. Perhaps I’m simply thawing.
But for the sake of nostalgia: here’s one for the archives. Nothing is going as planned. Call me unruly, but there is some joy in knowing that the world has flipped on its head and I am still waltzing confidently along. The gravity of that old world – rigid, self-imposed expectation – has morphed into a new set of standards which encourage the boldness of an undecided undertaking.
A state of flux? is, for now, a state of bliss.