Settling into wanting to do something has not come easily to me. I know a lot of people who would say the same, but coming into my fifth year of college has made me reckon with that fact. I have had to examine everything about me, from where I come from to where I want to go to who I want to be. I looked back at my childhood, my teenage years, and tried to find something, anything, that would point me in some direction.
Everything always seemed to lead itself back to writing.
As a child, I was the kid who made the worlds we played in. I was the kid who helped people develop wild backstories, who helped people feel seen in their roles in what we played. I was the one writing “lyrics” for the band that my cousins and I were totally going to start. I was that middle schooler who wrote fanfiction and always had a notebook to just jot something, anything, down whenever I could. In high school I took advanced English classes, studied musical composition in relation to the written word, worked in the school’s library in the morning, and wrote essay after essay about what I wanted to do for college.
It’s funny to think that in those essays I was writing about becoming a kinesiologist. That, of course, didn’t last. Before orientation, I had already changed my major to public relations, something I was absolutely fascinated with. I saw it as an opportunity to use my voice and have an impact and was so excited for it. First semester of sophomore year, I realized that it wasn’t quite right. I wanted to help people and PR didn’t really seem like the best way for me to do that. I switched around a lot of communications majors until switching to psychology. It felt closer to what I wanted to do, but nothing really clicked until I switched to English.
It feels obvious looking back. Of course the best way to use my voice and help people would be through English, through writing. Questioning what I wanted to do, who I wanted to be, has led me to this most amazing place in my life where I am finally recognizing what I want. I wish I could take credit for this realization, but honestly it was my friends who noticed it before I did. Part of that is why I am here in the first place. If I had not had others to lift me up, I would still be unhappily working towards a degree that didn’t suit me. Community is always something I want to strive to participate in and create. Being here means that I get to do both.
Emory Night is currently studying at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. They plan to graduate with a BA in English and a minor in secondary education. They are an intern with The Jones Center for Leadership and Service and read regularly with Writers Block, a writing club at the University of Tennessee.