by Kristin Schwartz
If Taylor University taught me nothing else, it’s that life is all about connections. I mostly escaped that reality in high school—classes are so distinctly separate that it’s hard to even recognize relationships between calculous and the physics class down the hall. At Taylor, however, I saw the light. And it’s this realization about connectedness that has helped me keep perspective and stay motivated through the three years and five jobs since my 2014 graduation.
I remember one of my mentors explaining it this way just before I graduated: Up until college, and sometimes during, your life is linear. You follow a pre-determined pattern laid out directly in front of you. First grade, second grade, third grade, etc. But as you enter college, and especially when you graduate, your life changes. There is no defined line of progression anymore. Your life starts to work in circles—connections, constantly overlapping, which give way to stepping-stones.
I started to see what she meant while I was still at Taylor, and I see it even more now. In no particular order, these are some lessons I’ve learned about the connectedness of life.
- There’s no such thing as a wasted class.
I took some unexpected classes at Taylor. At the time, I did it because Professional Writing was a small major and I had space to fill. But now I’m thrilled that I did. Writers are taught to collect ideas: thoughts, facts, and random quotes. Environmental Science and Philosophy of Mind were deep mines of unusual information.
Maybe a class has nothing to do with your major. If it’s even remotely interesting to you, take it anyway. As writers, it is our business to know about life. Learn about it. No matter what the class is, you will find connections to your writing and your work at some point. (Yes, even Art as Experience.)
- Entry-level jobs feel useless. They’re not.
Take it from someone who spent the first two years after graduation recording meeting minutes and thumb twiddling because there was never enough work to keep busy. It felt like a useless job eighty percent of the time. It wasn’t. During all that time spent twiddling my thumbs or taking meeting notes, I was also paying attention. I learned how to coexist in a workplace. I gathered experiences and ideas about life that I can use to inform my writing. I built my resume.
Your first job might seem pointless. Your second one might, too. But they’re not. They’re stepping stones, and they have value in themselves for the experience and insight you gain. Don’t waste them.
- Hard work is vital, but it’s no replacement for relationships.
Connections between ideas and experiences are important. But the basis of everything is relationships. My community is full of people with stories and experiences and insights that I’ve learned from. They’ve informed how I write and how I live. And they’ve helped me find jobs, housing, and friends.
We’re all taught this, but it bears repeating: don’t go through life thinking you don’t need people. You are far from self-sufficient even after you make your own food and pay your own electric bill. Life isn’t just enriched through these connections you build; life exists in them.
There’s a final important point to make: connections are rarely obvious ahead of time. So take advantage of every opportunity, and don’t be afraid to try new things. You never know how they’ll connect you to incredible experiences later.