First loves are intense and always leave an indelible impression that never fully goes away. In the years after those relationships end, looking back often leaves you with strong feelings of hatred, sadness, longing or regret.
This year, my senior year, my last year at UC Davis, I’ve decided to make the most of every moment. I hope every week to do something I haven’t done before, or at least do it in a different way. I will be sharing those experiences in this column (Feel free to do a secret happy dance in your head. I’m excited too!). Let’s call it my “cap and gown list,” and every week I’ll add something to it.
Back to my original point, I’ve decided that my first love and I parted ways prematurely. I left my love behind, in the dust, seemingly without cause or second thought. I told myself I needed to see what else was out there, I rationalized that it was important to broaden my horizons, experience more. So, callously, I cast my real love aside, shattering it in the wake of that famous justification “I’m too young to make a real commitment.”
Now, after years of experimenting, testing the waters, or any other cliché term you want to apply, I came to that horrible, sinking feeling that what I really, truly want is, in fact, the very thing I left behind.
So, it’s time to go back. With you all as my witnesses, I hereby commit to return to my first love and see if I can make it work.
That first love is exactly what I am doing now: writing. It has always been my love, and somewhere deep down I think I knew it all along. With the end of college fast approaching, I owe it to myself, and my true love, to see if I can make this work (because who knows what will happen when graduation rolls around and suddenly we’re not making enough time for each other?).
When I left writing behind the first time, I set out to see what else sparked my interest. Perhaps I would make a good civil litigator? Maybe I would be good with an MFT degree in my pocket? How about a career as an educator, I wondered (though my mother, a teacher herself, pretty much nixed that one long ago).
In the end, I realized that first loves, first passions, are real, powerful and must be given their due. I have come to understand that writing was my earliest passion because it is my deepest passion.
Journalism runs in my family, both my father and grandfather spent their lives in the pursuit of a well-crafted sentence (the former of whom is still searching). As a result, I understand that the life of a writer can sometimes be full of torment, of hand wringing and lonely nights facing relentless deadlines and a blank screen. I understand sacrifices will need to be made, and I believe I am ready.
When I was young, my parents stressed the importance of enlarging my perspectives of the world; they tried hard to show me that the more ways you can look at a situation, event or circumstance, the closer you can come to really understanding it. Out of those teachings, I emerged believing firmly that I am a product of all the things I choose to experience, and in almost equal part of the things I choose not to.
With that said, I am determined to get as much as possible out of the year I have left in Davis, college and the not-quite-real world.
I hereby begin my year of doing the undone, trying to make the absolute most I can out of every last moment of unfettered time left, and I hope you will come along for the ride. The time has come to take the first step down “broaden-my-horizons lane,” and I’m ready and anxious to get going. It’s already begun: this column itself is the fulfillment of the first goal on my list (I don’t mess around with a list).
EMILY KAPLAN is excited to spend the year with you! E-mail suggestions for her cap and gown list to email@example.com.