Throughout my first two years of college, the voice in my head constantly told me I should drop out. I was unhappy with my trajectory in school, I felt socially unfulfilled and, ultimately, I felt like the college experience was a lie.
I was never sure what I wanted out of college. I entered the UW College of Engineering for practical reasons, but had a nagging feeling I didn’t quite belong in the field. For multiple semesters, I buried myself in the work hoping I would find security, never allowing myself to explore other interests or passions.
It’s safe to say that this was an unhealthy path.
In early 2020, a good friend reached out to me and told me he was considering joining Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) Music, an organization on campus that books and runs concerts at the Unions. Even though we were second semester sophomores, he said the community seemed welcoming and that joining late wasn’t weird at all. This was just the push I needed. I had been curious about WUD since my freshman year, but I had never allowed myself to participate in things outside of academics.
As the semester drew on, I struggled academically, but the fellowship I experienced through my involvement was gratifying. I met many colorful, charismatic people, all pursuing different majors and careers. When I discovered that students in WUD were using their experiences in the club to land careers in creative industries, I started to reassess what it meant to be in college. After seeing so many people taking their passions and skills and turning them into careers, I started to question my own academic journey. What was I trying to gain by simply just getting a degree?
Once the dreaded Spring 2020 term ended, I was at a crossroads: I was either going to put my academic career on indefinite hold, or I was going to go into the fall semester with a completely different approach.
I followed my curiosity and joined every student organization I had previously forbidden myself from exploring. I picked up writing for The Daily Cardinal and got my start in student radio with WSUM. Somehow, despite all my time commitments, my GPA started recovering. I even transferred into the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where I found a renewed sense of optimism for my future.
My journey is still far from complete, but now the path seems much brighter. I don’t enjoy talking about myself much, but when I was approached by the Cardinal to contribute my thoughts for this issue, I figured sharing my experience and relationships with campus organizations might help inspire others to explore new possibilities. If you haven’t already, please consider getting involved with one of the 900 organizations on campus.
You’re never too old, and it’s never too late to try new things.