Rolling with the Changes: Finishing Undergrad

Six years have passed since high school graduation. Six years. It feels like it’s been forever and yet it all happened in the blink of an eye. Time is strange like that; they say time flies when you’re having fun, but it sure wasn’t all roses and daisies the whole way through either. I know many can say the same, if not everyone who reads this. We all know what it’s like to live; of course, not exactly as we all experience it, but the basis of everything remains the same.

My buddy Bruce from Animal Crossing said it best: “The ocean of life has waves,” meaning, there are ups and downs, which everyone knows, but the hard part is learning how to ride the waves. That’s certainly something I’ve learned to do throughout my time in college. Sure, I haven’t figured it out entirely, but I’d like to think I’ve gotten a better grasp on it since 2017. Life has thrown me lots of curveballs in this time, from bouncing around three different colleges until I ended up here at New Paltz, to being in and out of bands, losing and gaining relationships and bottom line, experiencing change.

Change has always been a tough thing for me to deal with. I’m a creature of habit, a sucker for routine and it shows. I fell into the illusion that things could always be the way they are, but unfortunately, it’s just not my reality. Life slapped me in the face with this cold, hard truth. I experienced betrayal and loss. My mom had a stroke and was never the same again, and the end of college arrived. Well, at least until I’m back for grad school, but the point remains: the clock keeps on spinning and there’s no DeLorean to turn it back. The only thing left to do is cope.

Some people love this — they travel, look for the next place to live, new friends to make, whatever can bring a semblance of variety and newness into their life. Yet I grasp to hold on to the things I love, even when it’s time to move on. It’s good to be sentimental like that and value the life you’re already living, but change is inevitable. That clock isn’t going to stop ticking. So I’ve been learning to appreciate it all. That goes for the big and the little things, the big being the most obvious for me: walking to class on campus, editing in The Oracle’s office, spinning records in the WFNP studio and even just being involved with the school beyond my classes. But the little things are harder – remembering to take in the colors of fall in that two-week window before the leaves all fall, watching the buds sprout on the trees come spring, closing your eyes at a show to take in the music unobstructed by other senses, even taking a snapshot of a moment with your mind and saying, “I can’t wait to look back at this in a year.” It almost seems silly, but it’s so important for the soul.

I don’t really believe in the soul or any of that spiritual stuff. I’m pretty grounded for the most part. Yet, there’s something about appreciating all these things, big and little alike, that seems to reassure me that more good things will come. The good has to be appreciated while it’s still around, so when the bad times do come, there’s something to look back at and to look forward to. It’s a reminder that no matter how bad it gets, there’s still a light at the end of that tunnel. It’s so cliché and I’m sure you’re reading this, going “come on Curt, we all know this,” but give me a break! It’s a reflection ­­— I’m doing my best here!

Point is, at the end of it all, I’m forced to look back and appreciate these things. Especially after the year I’ve had, it feels good to see all the great things I was able to accomplish among the darkness. I already went into detail about all the band stuff in my last opinion piece, but The Oracle is another light that shined through the pitch black. I was never able to fit into an extracurriculars or clubs my whole life; I’m horrible at sports, I don’t particularly shine through in science or math and there was never a newspaper to work for in any of my schooling career. After I started going to New Paltz, former A&E page editor Alli Dempsey wrote an article about Door Daze, a local DIY festival and the picture was of the band I played in that day! I couldn’t believe my eyes. My band got recognition and so did the scene and it was all through a student-run newspaper. This was such a beautiful thing to know and I immediately went to find out how I could get involved.

Soon after reaching out to her and talking to the editor-in-chief, Zoe, they were happy to take me aboard this crazy train we call The Oracle. It was an experience like no other, and everyone was there for one reason as stated on a poster in the office: “I work because I love this shit.” That stood out to me immensely – no one likes writing essays for class, but here were all these people that wrote even more, outside an academic purpose, for the love of it. They were there to create change, to talk about what they love, to provide a voice for those who don’t. That’s such a beautiful thing to me and I feel such honor to be a part of it. Even though it’s “just a college newspaper” to some, for me, it’s another family. Everyone has their quirks and reasons to be there and they all come together for the love of journalism and English.

I would’ve never been a part of The Oracle if it weren’t for all the change in my life. I wouldn’t have even written this piece the way I’m writing it now, if it weren’t for every single thing that occurred from 2017 until now and even before then too. Pain means that you’re growing and learning, and all the pain I’ve experienced has led me here, to the end. But what comes next? I don’t even know myself and the future is frightening. I’m still figuring out how to cope with that change – but what I do know is that there’s no avoiding it. With the end of my time in undergrad, it brings forth a multitude of opportunities that’s up to me to seize. When that opportunity runs its course, something else will await me and that’s the important thing to remember. No matter how bad it gets, how hopeless it might seem, how impossible it might be to go on living your life when the things you were used to are now gone, things will turn out alright.

There’s a comfort and an anxiety in change, something we must all learn to harness as life goes on. It’s exciting to enter a new chapter and quite a scary thing, for we fear the unknown. I know I certainly do. So it’ll be a learning experience for all of us to enter that unwritten chapter. Wish me luck, dear reader.