I still remember the feeling that overcame me when I opened up that email in my high school library that informed me I had been accepted to Elmhurst College. I literally could not care less. I had absolutely no interest in coming to Elmhurst, it was not my first choice, nor was it my second or even a close third.
I was an arrogant city boy with big dreams of a future in the corporate world that would take from my home on the far south side of Chicago to some loft in the Loop. Moving to some quaint little town in the Western suburbs didn’t just seem incredibly boring to me, as douchey as it sounds, Elmhurst seemed beneath me. But despite my reservations about the choice, a financial aid package that I couldn’t turn down and some convincing from people around me brought me to accept the offer to attend EC.
Three semesters of mediocre grades and complete lack of social life later and it was clear to me at the time that my worst fear had come true. Not only had I made a mistake in coming here, I made a mistake that would put me thousands of dollars in debt. Worse yet, I had filled out all the necessary forms to move forward with transfering to a school in Chicago, but some of my classes not being transferable put me an entire semester behind. My lofty dreams of being some downtown finance hotshot would have to wait an extra few months because of my poor choices.
I was one click away from just biting the bullet, putting my dreams on hold and starting over somewhere else, anything to get me out of this suburban limbo I was incarcerated in. But as I sat there staring at that transfer application in my Cureton dorm room, I had a thought: If I left, what exactly would be different? Sure a change of setting could be a new start, but what if the problems I had fitting in at Elmhurst were a result of my own reluctance to change? I had spent so much time believing that something interesting in my life would just present itself in front of me rather than making an active effort to create a life for myself.
Just as a goof I responded to a campus wide email to join The Leader, and just randomly walked into one of the Leader’s weekly Tuesday meetings. I literally had zero experience with journalism, and it was a bumpy road fraught with mistakes to become a quasi-half-decent wordsmith. But here I am, granted with the unique honor of being the Editor-in-Chief of the organization that granted me a second chance here. I made great friends, some great mistakes, and some even greater memories.
My biggest take away from my entire experience both with The Leader and with Elmhurst was that in order to achieve the life you want, you’ve got to reach out there and grab it. As scary as that prospect might seem, and as easy as it might seem to fail, the reward will always be worth it.