Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

It all means nothing, and everything

(Maral Margossian)

I did zero research about the University of Massachusetts before applying. I’m from California, so I hadn’t even heard of the school until my older brother suggested I look into it during my college application process.

Did I look into it? No. But I saw that UMass did not require any supplemental essay in its application, making it easy to apply, so I sent one over. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy but I remember thinking, well before the letters started rolling in, “What if this is the school I end up going to?” Not too keen on the idea, I put the thought out of my mind.

UMass was the first acceptance letter I received, and one that I ultimately, begrudgingly accepted because it just happened to work out best. Mind you, at this point, I had accepted my place as an incoming freshman and still hadn’t researched anything about the school.

Around this time, I had been bored with high school for years and ready to get out. In my senior year, one of the few things I looked forward to was my school newspaper class so, when I finally began doing my research about UMass, I started here: The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. In a school I knew nothing about, The Collegian was the one thing I knew with certainty that I wanted to join.

For a few years in high school, I had known I wanted to work somewhere in the field of political science or international relations, but I could not come to terms with the idea that I was about to devote the entirety of my undergraduate academic career to just political science. So, with a few credits already under my belt from high school, I looked at what else I could do. I loved English and math, so I looked at the university requirements for both of those majors and saw that I could add a second major. Then another thought crept into my mind as I realized, I could not only add a second major, but a third; “What if I triple majored in political science, English and math?” I knew the thought was absurd, but I also knew that it was already decided. Once the idea found its way into my mind, I had to go through with it.

And it was a perfect mix of subjects. I wanted to pursue a career in international relations, so political science was obvious. English was a must because literature and writing have always been constants in my life. And then there was math. I hated math up until the summer before my sophomore year of high school, when I took a pre-calculus class and my teacher made me realize how great math actually is. By my junior year in high school, I had finished all the available math classes at my school, and by my senior year, I realized that I missed those classes. My relationship with the subject wasn’t over and I felt that there was more to explore, especially since I only recently discovered that I enjoyed it.

I decided to add math on as a major as well, even though it was the one that scared me the most. I wasn’t exceptionally good at math, and the ideas did not come particularly easy to me, so I knew it would be the most difficult major for me to complete. For this reason, it also became the most important major to undertake because it became my personal endeavor to prove that I could. I decided that math would be my “undergraduate challenge,” a personal project where if I could complete these three majors, if I could complete math, then I can do it. “It” being general, ambiguous, the all-encompassing “it.”

I was right that it would be incredibly demanding, but wrong in that math would be the major source of this difficulty.

I went to the Fall Activities Expo with the intent of finding the booth for the Collegian. When I found it, I immediately signed up to the email list. I joined the opinion/editorial section because I was the op/ed editor of my high school paper and loved every minute of it. A couple weeks later, I was hired as an assistant editor and I have never looked back since.

These past four years have been some of the most challenging and rewarding of my life so far. When I began as a columnist at the Collegian my freshman year, I remember agonizing through every step of writing, from picking a topic to finding just the right word. I felt both the frustrating dissatisfaction of not being able to translate exactly how I felt into the words I wrote, but somehow still found myself satisfied, and even proud, of the end result of my piece. The challenges I faced as an assistant editor and section editor have taught me how to handle ethical dilemmas and keep composure in the midst of confrontation. Through my course load, I wish I could say that I learned how to balance and prioritize, but it would be more accurate and honest to say that I became an expert juggler. But I did discover that I am able to push my boundaries to greater and greater limits.

None of this would have happened had I not applied to UMass. Through an arbitrary chain of events, I ended up here. All the college planning I did meant nothing. All the other colleges I thought were the right fit for me were wrong. I didn’t have to take the classes that gave me additional credits entering college. UMass didn’t have to accept those credits – many other colleges don’t. I don’t remember why I joined journalism in high school, that easily could not have happened. Everything leading up to me being at UMass feels completely, entirely random. Yet to me, being at UMass feels fated. In the whim to apply and circumstance to accept, I found the place I needed to be.

There is a made-up word, nodus tollens, that means, “the pain of realizing the plot of your life no longer makes sense to you.” I need the word that means the complete opposite. There is a liberating sense of meaninglessness and awareness of a total loss of control in these series of events. Liberating because I don’t need to have everything figured out. It doesn’t matter how much I plan and organize, things rarely, if ever, work out the way we expect. But, regardless of these turns of events, everything ends up okay. That doesn’t mean to not have any sense of direction. There have been certain constants throughout my life, that continue to reappear in significant ways, and those are the things that give you an idea of who you are, and who you want to be. They ground you, and in a way, guide you, but by no means does that mean that you have things figured out. And that is wonderful.

If nothing else, during my time at UMass, I have learned that there is comfort in uncertainty.

It all means nothing. But in nothing, I found everything.

Maral Margossian was the Collegian op/ed editor and can be reached at [email protected].

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    JuliaMay 2, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    Great article Ren!! Your hard work has paid off. I’m so impressed with what you’ve accomplished and I’m glad fate brought you to umass!