As a transfer student graduating from Emory this spring, sometimes I cannot help but wonder how different my life would have been if I had chosen to stay at my old college. At the time, switching schools was not something that I had originally wanted to do, so when my first year at Emory came around I ended up spending most of my time moping around and staying home, generally having an all together miserable existence.
By the summer after the first year though, I figured that enough was enough and decided to actually try to make the best of the situation I was in. What was the point of feeling sorry for myself when I was putting in no effort at all to make myself happy? Right then and there I decided to actually attempt to build a new life here, at the very least for the sake of being able to say that I tried.
In that short time span of my last two remaining years at Emory, I can say that this decision was one of the most important choices I have ever made, as well as one of the best too. I wrote my first novel and published it, a goal I had always dreamed of doing but never seriously thought that I would ever accomplish. I got into filmmaking, finally making use of both my near debilitating love of cinema and a rather large and (at the time) useless knowledge of movies. I made short films that won awards and scripts that have won prizes, once another pipe-dream of mine. I made friends — amazing people who added so much substance and so many dimensions to my life, an effect that I can only hope I have made on them as well.
I discovered slam poetry. On a random walk in downtown Decatur I discovered JavaMonkey, a coffee shop that held weekly open mics (every Sunday night). It was there that I discovered slam poetry, an art form that spoke to me through its diverse range of structure and passionate delivery. Though I had never done anything like that before, the talented people there encouraged me to practice and hone my skills. I still remember the first time I awkwardly delivered a line and made the audience laugh, and the first time someone came up to me after my performance to thank me for my words. It was an experience I will never forget.
I am not saying all this to brag about my achievements (okay, maybe a little). I know I didn’t accomplish all of this because there was something special in me. Rather, it was the decision to make something out of what I was given that allowed me to get to where I am today. In truth, everybody has that potential in them to do greatness. All it takes is making the right choice.
Part of writing this reflection editorial is to give some advice to the undergraduates who will still be here. Honestly, I do not know where you come from, or what your plans are for the next thirty years of your life (all graduating seniors have one, trust me). Maybe you find the experience here to be amazing. Maybe you never wanted to come here in the first place. All I can tell you is that all those things that I had listed above, everything that I am proud of saying that I accomplished these past few years, I could have only done if I had moved to Emory. Find what you are good at, and then do it. Regardless of where you are, you have the ability to make it worth remembering. And if you can’t, there’s always drug dealing to make a quick and easy buck. Money fixes everything (this message has been approved by the editors at the Wheel).
I don’t know what would be different if I had chosen to stay at my old college. We will never know what might have happened had we taken another path. All I do know is that I made the most out of the choice I ended up with, and really, that’s all we can try to do before our inevitable demises.
Eugene Ahn is from Raleigh, North Carolina. He is graduating with a B.A. in Psychology.