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Unforeseen developments

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

When I thought about graduation my freshman year, I expected to be leaving Duke with my brain filled and my mind expanded, having pondered a range of intellectual questions and ready to embark on a perfectly planned-out future. But over the past four years, my vision of the future has changed, and the vantage point from which I am writing this column is not what I thought it would be.

I have learned a lot, particularly about American history and literature, and I’ve engaged in a great deal of academic contemplation, as I had hoped that I would. But as cliché as this sounds, I feel like I’ve learned more about myself and what I want to do outside of the classroom. I should have assumed as much. After all, ever since I started applying to college, people told me that college would change me, make me more independent. But beyond the simple everyday decisions and experience of living on one’s own that everyone engages in during college, I credit my specific experiences at Duke with finally making me more mature and assertive.

When I first came to Duke as a scared, shy freshman, I still bore the wounds of unfriendly interactions in high school that prevented me from being the first one to say, “hello” when I passed people I knew. It wasn’t until my junior year that I learned that my own slightly unfriendly behavior had created a few unintentional enemies, and I finally broke out of my self-imposed bubble of shyness and learned to be friendlier. Anyone who knows me knows that traces of my timidity still remain, but for the most part, I’m more outgoing and assertive than I once was, and I don’t think that this change could have happened the same way anywhere else. This assertiveness transferred into other aspects of my life and my work with Recess.

Although I didn’t admit it at the time, Recess was a big part of my decision to come to Duke. I remember visiting Duke after I had been accepted and flipping open The Chronicle to find an article in Recess comparing Eminem to Elvis—the sort of national, contemplative story that I hope the magazine will continue to feature. While The Chronicle’s journalistic standards were far superior to those of the newspapers at other, smaller colleges I was considering, I saw in Recess the opportunity to achieve my goal of being a music journalist. And in my time with Recess, I’ve written about national and local music and improved my previously non-existent reporting skills. But more importantly, my work with the paper has given me a greater love of journalism than I originally had or thought I would develop. Even though Recess is often derided for its occasionally light-hearted perspective, I always saw it as a place to examine important issues and trends in entertainment, and having to assess these matters and determine what we should cover has made me a better journalist than I expected to become.

While I’m not yet where I want to be—I don’t have the dream job I thought I would be preparing to start after college—I know what I want to do and where I want to be, which is an accomplishment in and of itself. Looking to the future during my freshman year, I didn’t know how to get there from where I was. Although I now know that it’s not a straight path to success, I’ve glimpsed the starting points of a number of pathways, and now I’m just waiting for the opportunity to embark on one.

So, this may not have been exactly how I envisioned myself coming out of Duke, but in some ways this is how I hoped things would turn out. I ultimately decided to come to Duke because I thought its more real world-like atmosphere would make me more independent and ready to take on the world. And in that way, maybe it was supposed to be like this.

Hilary Lewis is a Trinity senior and Senior Editor of Recess.

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