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My Last Words and Your First Step

Alumna Perspective - Jo Lin

Every journey begins with a single step. This saying came to me as I reflected on what I would say in my last blog post to you all. The saying is important because it reminds us that journeys don’t just happen to us, that we don’t just wake up one day in the middle of one – rather, a journey begins when we make the decision to, by taking that first step.

I know that for some of you, the first step is just what you’ve been struggling over. Don’t worry, you’ll take it. I say this as someone who may seem to have been much more assured in taking my first step 7 years ago, having applied and been accepted Early Decision, but I was facing just as many unknowns, and things I thought were known but would later prove otherwise.

For example, I had intended to go to college and major in English with a minor in Theatre. I had enjoyed and excelled at both subjects in high school and so my college search had been a lot about narrowing it down to schools with excellent English and Theatre programs. No surprisingly, Barnard topped the list, and I visited and applied. I didn’t find out until later that I would have the hardest, most detestable time writing essays (no English major for me!), and that I found college theatre so much less accessible than my high school’s theatre that I didn’t even try out (so no minor there either).

Which is not to say my love of writing and acting was discarded – after all, I’m currently taking an acting class, and I am writing here and in other places. But what I mean to say is, the unexpected will come up all along the journey, and it’s the constant interaction between your intentions and the unknown that will end up shaping you and your future. You may think and expect and plan for one thing, but the places you go and the people you meet and the things you try can and often will lead you into something else.

With a place as diverse as Barnard, even with my best-laid plans not working out I had a blast of a time exploring other subjects and interests, meeting amazing people and trying previously unimagined things. And while I don’t doubt that I would have done well at a different college, I seriously wonder if I would have been exposed to as much, or gotten as comfortable opening myself to the unknown, and grown outside of my box.

It’s been a journey I can look back on and be proud of. Don’t worry, because you’ll be able to one day too.