Forever Growing, Forever Learning

Published 3 years ago -

Sarah Ardolino, Arts & Entertainment Editor

The other day, I was looking over all my files on Google Drive and I came across a folder labeled “college.” It hadn’t been edited since October 2015, which was around the time I was applying for college. Curious, I opened the folder to find my college essay for the Common App (who else completely forgot that the Common App was a thing?) and a few supplementary essays for specific schools. I remembered that I took an old homework assignment and used it for the essay, and that I wrote about being a good listener, but that was about all I could recall about it. Admittedly, I was weirdly excited to read the essay; it was one of the main materials of my application that helped me get into college into the first place.

Post reading the college essay, I just kind of sat there at my kitchen table for a moment in dismay. I could not believe that I wrote that. It was so cringe-worthy and awkward to read. How did I even get into college after submitting that? “Jack of all trades?” Really? That is such a lame and boring idiom; how could I put those words on paper for someone to judge my college admittance?

Thinking about it a little more, I realized that I wrote that in 2015, five years ago. I have learned so much since then, and I have grown so much as a writer. So of course, I am going to look back and question my old self. And, I will probably do the same thing to this column five years from now. In 2025, I will be sitting at my kitchen table in (hopefully) a modest, yet funky apartment in a city across the U.S. while drinking my morning coffee and somehow stumble upon to find my old column and think, “Arbitrary Thoughts? What kind of name is that?”

We are forever growing and forever learning. That is just a part of being a person on this Earth; we are supposed to change and evolve with time. So, I hope I look back at my pieces of writing from college and cringe.

I have decided to include the college essay in the column; you can judge it for yourself, and hopefully recognize while reading that it is okay to be bad at first. You have to start somewhere. (Yet again, another cliché idiom. I guess I am still learning.)

“College Essay circa 2015”

Grocery shopping used to be an uncomfortable situation for me. I would always agree to go with my mother, forgetting the awkwardness that would lie ahead. Searching through the store for each item needed on “the list”, invariably we would run into someone my mother would know. Both of them would talk for what seemed like ages, while I was quietly waiting for them to finish. Throughout many years of similar situations, I realized that around new or unfamiliar faces, I just couldn’t come up with anything to say. Once I got past the typical “hi” and “how are you?”, I was left stifled for the rest of the interaction. For the majority of my life, I have been labeled shy. Which is true to a certain extent, but I do not currently consider myself “shy”. Over time, I have become less of an introvert; but, little did I know during those painfully slow and awkward situations with my mom, I acquired a skill many don’t learn until they become an adult; how to listen.

Being able to listen is a great skill that is useful all the time: at school where the teacher is dictating, at practice where the coach is explaining, at work where the boss is reprimanding, and at home where friends and family are sharing. Listening is the easiest way to show that you care. A shy person can be an excellent listener, but an excellent listener isn’t exactly a shy

person. I couldn’t fathom this concept when I was a reserved little girl ten years ago. But over the years of being branded as shy but then breaking from that mold, I started to recognize the new skill I learned from this so-called ‘terrible’ trait.

I refuse to be brushed off as shy. Sometimes, people imply that being an excellent listener is just another way to label someone bashful. Some may consider a great listener to be timid or scared to speak up. These stereotypes may apply to some but, not to all, and I do not consider being shy or being a good listener as a vice. A negative connotation is associated with being a great listener; but I disagree. My friends and family always feel comfortable to tell me either what they are thinking or their problems or their secrets because they know I care enough to listen. I take pride in the fact that my family and friends can trust me to keep the tales they confide to me. Or trust me to give thoughtful, loving, and carefully considered advice. They can rely on me to provide my well-thought out feedback.

I am not that timid little girl anymore; I have grown from that stage of my life. I’ve learned how to speak up for myself. Now, I am a well-spoken young lady, as well as a good listener due to my experience of being shy in the past. Someone who is a good listener is a jack of all trades due to being shy in the past and growing from it; he or she knows the difference between when it is time to speak up and time to pay attention.

Song(s) of the week: “ARE WE STIL FRIENDS?,” Tyler, The Creator

“Tomorrow,” Shakey Graves

“Sex Tourists,” French Kicks

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