Nostalgia. It’s delicate, but potent. In Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone.
I confess. I borrowed that from Mad Men. But! I have never found a character and a show that spoke to me quite the same. Don Draper is king of all the feels. Eliminate his womanizing and I connect with his character. I quite possibly look up to him because of his ability to create magic. He makes people feel a moment like no other. Ok, I may be veering off but I promise I have a point.
When I think back to graduating high school in 2008, yes it was that long ago, I remember dreams of going off to a top university, joining every club imaginable, being at the top of my classes, and maybe even being a cheerleader. Then life happened. I learned that just because thats what the narrative normally looked like, mine might play out a bit different.
I had to move out and support myself due to some family struggles. I secured two jobs and worked hard to become self sufficient. College moved to the back burner and just couldn’t be my main focus. I did well for myself. I managed to pay my bills, take some classes, have some fun, and purchase my first car. After about 4 years I finished my AA in Jacksonville. I still wanted something else. I felt it in my heart, I still wanted to go to my dream school.
I wrote my entrance essay and filled out my application for the University of Florida. I remember not telling many people because I didn’t want everyone to know if I didn’t make it. Within a couple weeks, I received a text message. By the way, technology is great but I certainly had it all planned out to walk to my mailbox everyday and open a letter. I digress…
With three weeks to move and still enrolled in a couple classes in Jacksonville, I moved to Gainesville. I honestly don’t even think I completely thought about it. I just prayed about it so much that I knew it would work out. I went to Preview and was welcomed to the College of Journalism and Communications. I talked to the advisors and was so excited to start learning all about broadcasting. Another bump in the road, apparently there was a “News Test” I had to pass. I began to think, what am I doing? I know NOTHING about the news. I just know I wanted to do it. I failed the first test and started to panic. I enrolled in some more classes the next semester and studied up to take it again. With a lot of prayers I decided if I didn’t get into the program this time, I would choose something else to major in. A couple weeks later I received the email that I finally got into the program. I was feeling so unstoppable. Little did I know, this was the easy part.
The News Program. Where do I begin? I believe I could write a series of novels about it really. I was so unbelievably under experienced in the INC. My high school did not have a news program what so ever, let alone I hadn’t been in high school in five years. The other students were hard workers. It seemed like every single hour they had, they devoted to the newsroom. I barely had time cut out to make it to class. I was so exhausted most mornings from pulling an all nighter bartending to pay my bills. Just about every semester that went by, I had at least one awful grade, barely involved, and it emotionally made me feel like less. I was six years OLDER than most people around me, I didn’t understand them, and they didn’t me. Working with WUFT taught me again that in life you have to do things you always do feel like doing. In the beginning, I was not passionate about the news. I loathed it with every fiber in me. I never thought I would say this, but today I’m addicted. I find myself watching it all the time. How would I say it? How would I edit that?
I wanted to quit a million times. Some days I believe the only reason I didn’t, was because my body was in a routine and my brain sometimes followed. There is one person who periodically checked in on me and that meant the world to me. Especially because I felt like a ghost in the newsroom. My sports director called me a couple times a semester and made sure I was coming back to work with him. I know I was not this epic sports writer, but I think he knew it meant a lot to me to be apart of the program. I loved writing and anchoring sports updates for WRUF every week. I was proud of myself when I did these things. See how much fun I had…
Now I think about today. I have a week left in this journey at UF. Pure nostalgia. The experience nearly broke me. Life threw a curve ball every single chance it got, (I will leave the personal life sliders out of it, pun intended, my goodness). UF, the College of Journalism and Communication, and the News Program all have wonderful reputations. I know I was not the type of student that should have tackled all of this, but I did. Just like any sport, if you want to be the best, you have to compete with the best. When you get tired, try harder. Just before you give up, that is when the magic happens. And you really do miss the shots you don’t take.
I know I will look back and remember how hard I worked for my degree. It was painful and certainly left a wound (and some debt). It reminds me I can do things people say I couldn’t. Saturday, December 17th, 2016 at ten in the morning, I will be a complete mess. I know my sentiments will change as I turn the pages to complete this chapter.
I won’t be ready to say goodbye.