70: Reporting Home

70: Reporting Home

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Campus Chronicles

Reporting Home

A wise man changes his mind, a fool never.

~Spanish Proverb

As far back as I can remember, I’ve only wanted three things in life. I wanted to be a journalist, I wanted to be happy, and I wanted to go away to school. I loved my small Long Island town growing up, but as I got older, my town did as well. I felt like I needed to see another part of the world. Unfortunately after high school, I was committed to going to the community college only ten minutes from my house. I wasn’t going away, and I felt like I was letting myself down.

I came to love community college, and I later realized how smart I had been to go there first. But somewhere inside I still felt like I was doing something wrong, and when the time came to think about transferring to a four-year school, I refused to look at home. I applied to the University of Rhode Island, Emerson College, Northeastern University and Cornell University. In the end, I decided to attend Cornell, though at the time it didn’t seem like a hard decision. Cornell was one of the best in the world. It was Ivy League and it was located in a beautiful part of upstate New York. It seemed perfect.

There was just one small catch. Cornell didn’t have a journalism program, so I had applied as a general communications major. I didn’t realize until later how much of a mistake that was on my part.

Before I knew it, the time to actually leave had approached and I said goodbye to Long Island and began my trek upstate. I moved into my townhouse apartment and adjusted pretty quickly. It didn’t seem so bad at first. I was getting along with my roommates exceptionally well, and we already had made a solid group of friends. I didn’t think life could get any better.

However, the glamour started to wear off. I began to miss some of the little things I had taken completely for granted back home. I couldn’t understand why I was missing such inconsequential things. They hadn’t started to bother me until after classes started. I think it was then that I realized what was wrong.

The major problem was my change to a communications major from journalism. I had always known that I wanted to be a journalist and to write for a living. Writing was my passion, and I thrived under the pressure of deadlines. I had even thrived at my community college and gained a reputation for being a really good movie critic. But I had also been paying attention to the world around me, and I wasn’t stupid. There wasn’t much of a demand for print journalism, as more newspapers were going under, and more people were looking for work in the field.

The economy wasn’t in the best shape either, and I knew in my head that if I wanted to make money in the future that I couldn’t stick only with what I loved, so I decided to branch out in the general communication field. I figured that with training in Public Relations and Advertising I would then be set later on should I not find a journalism job. I would at least be making some money. I had convinced myself that this was what I needed to do and that I would love these other fields because they were still communication.

I was wrong.

As I started studying these topics further in depth, I realized how much they didn’t thrill me. As I walked out of class and started doing my homework (always reading assignments) I wasn’t feeling satisfied. My fingers weren’t working over a computer keyboard. The letters weren’t fading from incessant typing. I wasn’t typing at a speed of almost twenty words a minute like I had done when I had deadlines where I had to crank out a 500-word article in forty minutes. I wasn’t typing at all. I wasn’t even writing the old fashioned way with pen and paper. And I was miserable as a result.

It was the fact that I wasn’t being true to myself that made me miss the little things and want to go home. What had only been a little homesickness became an overwhelming despair. I just sat and cried nonstop in my room. It didn’t help that I saw everyone else being so happy with that what they were doing. I realized that this just wasn’t for me after all.

I kept my feelings to myself for as long as I could. But eventually they became too much for me to handle on my own, and private crying turned into crying on the phone to my mother every night. I was stuck with something I wasn’t happy doing, but I felt as if I shouldn’t give up this opportunity. I was the first one in my immediate family to leave for school. My mother had found money she didn’t have to get me to where I was. A degree from Cornell could mean a world of options after graduation. A degree from that school would be my ticket out of the life I had known. How could I drop my golden ticket in a garbage can and turn my back on such a promising future? I felt I couldn’t, no matter what the cost was to my happiness.

Eventually I realized I couldn’t stick it out doing something I didn’t want to do merely because of a possible end result. After all, I was always taught that money can’t buy happiness.

So five weeks after I had unpacked my bags, I started repacking them. I filled out a withdrawal from the university, and knew that it was the right thing to do when my academic advisor signed it and said, “If you want journalism, then this place isn’t for you.” I started saying goodbye to the friends I had made and stopped going to the classes that held no interest for me.

But I stopped crying that week. I started to smile again, and that alone told me that I was making the right decision.

So maybe I won’t have a degree that reads Cornell University. But I’ll be doing something I love.

And it won’t change the fact that Cornell University is an amazing school, or that they wanted me.

I did manage to take away one truly valuable lesson from my time there. Above all else, do what you love, and don’t let anything stop you from going for your dreams.

~Lauren DuBois

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