I’m on the right track, baby
Don’t write for The Massachusetts Daily Collegian.
If I didn’t write The Collegian, I don’t know what I’d be doing after I graduate. I do know that I wouldn’t be doing what I love.
After high school, I had an affinity for the sciences. I started at the University of Massachusetts as a biology major on the pre-med track. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was settling for something I liked, and not working at something I loved.
After learning that I could see movies for free if I wrote reviews for The Collegian, I started to do something I loved. Before I knew it, I was covering artists like Willie Nelson, AC/DC, U2 and Jay-Z. Less than a week after graduation, I’ll be moving down to New Jersey to work for MLB Network alongside some of the greatest writers and athletes to ever be associated with the game of baseball – my passion.
I’ve known since the seventh grade that I wanted to write about America’s pastime. I’m obsessed with the game and with the power of Ozzie Smith and the patience of Wily Mo Pena, I’ve acknowledged that I would be a much better contributor to the game off the field.
I learned a lot about work ethic and self-motivation to go from pre-med to professional baseball geek, but some of the most important things I learned were about myself.
I remember coming to the UMass campus for the first time. In my beat-to-all-Hell Red Sox hat, I can picture how fresh the buildings looked. They were just new buildings to me at the time. Their walls and the people between them didn’t matter, yet. But these were the places that would host memories that I’d cherish and/or regret for the rest of my life.
That was four years ago, and these places have soundtracks now.
Subtly dance-walking between classes to Lady Gaga. Staring at ripples in the pond for hours to Lynyrd Skynyrd. Bumpin’ down Mass. Ave to Jay-Z. Editing endless grammatical mistakes in the Collegian to R.E.M.
Songs attach themselves to feelings, and it’s good to remember how we used to feel about things. That’s what growing up is about, really. In order to mature, you can’t forget how things made you feel. And in order to appreciate happiness in its truest sense, you have to know what it feels like to be unhappy. The opportunity to be happy is always there; but you can only have it if you put your guard down, let yourself appreciate life and stop worrying about the small stuff.
I found what makes me happy recently, just in time before I moved on. I found people I want to be surrounded with, and I found that love isn’t something that you can mimic from television or something you can create; its roots burrow deep into finding out what and who makes you happy.
In a school as big as UMass, it’s easy to fall into the wrong crowd. It’s hard to say that it’s easy to be influenced negatively by your peers at UMass, because everyone is under the same influence of college itself. We’re all surrounded by tough decisions and temptations, but doing what’s best for you is easy with a strong foundation of people around you. It’s those that convince you that you aren’t as great as you are and allow those influences to drag you down who are the people that you should avoid.
Just five months ago I would have told you that I felt like I wasted a lot of time on things that led to only pain and regret. Today, I am more thankful for everything, because without it, I wouldn’t be here.
If I learned one thing in college, it’s to do what you love and everything else will work itself out; don’t settle for anything.
After barging through hard times with that doctrine as my lifeblood, I’m leaving UMass with a sense of self and more happiness than I can ever remember. With my dream job, a beautiful and brilliant young woman’s arm around my shoulders, amazing and fun friends who would do anything for me and a loving and loyal family who will always be there for me with open arms, I’ll proudly receive my diploma next week.
Don’t think for a second that I don’t appreciate how lucky I am.
And while I’m starry-eyed looking forward, I’m going to miss the smell of soy sauce before snowstorms, the must of my dirty apartment, walking through campus at the beginning of spring and packing into PVTA buses after nights of heavy drinking and singing along with the crowd.
And I’ll miss The Collegian.
Which brings me back to my first point. Don’t write for The Collegian.
If you want a job in this market, you should write for the paper. But I don’t want you to get a job, because that means fewer jobs for my friends and me. So fellow journalism students who don’t write for the paper, keep wasting your tuition money, my friends and I will be making money because of it.
Justin Gagnon was The Collegian’s Arts Editor. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.