When I walked into Allen 221 this afternoon, it felt rather nostalgic. That room is the first class room I ever set foot in at the U of O, back in my senior year of high school. It was a Duck Day visit where I was seriously checking out the school of journalism at UO. I guess I kind of forgot about journalism as soon as I got to college because I was taking a bunch of pointless classes, but that’s how my college career began; with journalism.
Ever since I’ve been taking journalism classes, I’ve been wondering what I’ve been doing for the past couple of years. Yes, I was getting a degree in English, but I realized today after leaving my Communications Law class that journalism is a lot more about writing than reading. I love to read, but I also love to write. English classes typically have you read books and then write papers about those books. It demands a textual critic, which I love being, but instead of creating my own texts for others to critique, I’m reacting to already-written texts.
Journalism demands something else that English classes generally do not: dialogue. We talked in our English classes, but really it’s possible and quite common to go through all the classes without ever saying a word. Many English majors, including myself, are very quiet and shy. But I can’t be quiet or shy in my journalism classes. I have to engage people. One might think this is a drawback to the journalism degree, that you actually have to talk to people and that you can’t simply be quiet if you want to be quiet. But I think it’s actually a benefit.
Too often we try to justify our habits and defend our comfort zones – our personal bubble. But when I moved into my new apartment, after a long time of talking to Jesus, I decided to approach this new (and hopefully final) year with no reservations. I didn’t want to have my comfort zones or my pet peeves anymore and ever since I made that decision, life has been pretty stress free. At times it’s a little difficult merely because I have certain pet peeves that are so deeply engrained in my personality, but I think I’ve relatively been successful at it.
I’m taking the same approach to my classes and school as a whole. Instead of being quiet and sustaining a deeply-introspective-but-ultimately-distracted countenance, I’m hoping to talk more, even it means taking the risk of being evaluated or judged by my classmates. It’s all a part of living with open hands, open minds, open hearts instead of closed ones.
With this approach to school (and more generally to life as a whole) I hope to break apart my instinctive nature to develop and commit to a routine. Once I’ve figured out my comfort zones, I develop a routine that rarely removes me from them. Essentially I build up anti-social fences and very rarely open any gates. What I want to do this year is more than just breaking down those fences; I want to forget that they were ever there to begin with. I don’t even want the concept of retreating to my comfort zones to be in my mind. And as I’ve already discovered, this requires action, which is why I bought a guitar.
It might be a dumb decision, but I figure that if I’m going to make a million mistakes in my lifetime, why can’t buying a guitar be one of them? It’ll challenge me to listen to other people, to learn how they play certain chords or certain songs, and to get out of my shell. Playing the djembe is fun and I think I’m relatively decent at it, at least as far as sustaining a beat goes. But it encourages my quiet and shy nature. I use it as an excuse to not sing during worship songs, but usually when you play a guitar, you sing also. Plus, thirty years from now, I’d like to say that I gave the guitar my best effort.
Rewiring my personality will take effort. But that’s just it; I want to be working to change, to adjust my personality and character to the character and personality of Jesus. Jesus engaged people, Jesus voiced His opinions, Jesus asked questions, and Jesus held no reservations. He had no comfort zones. And I think, for my final year at the U of O, I don’t want to have any either.