As I write this, I am reaching the end of the sixth day of my fifth month as a freshman. It seems amazing that already I’m approximately half way through a year which at times feels like it began yesterday, while, more frequently, I find myself longing for the end of it all and a blissful summer. This last usually occurs the night before a paper is due and I’m completing my final revisions—a state that I think everyone who has ever been a freshman knows is not pleasant. However, as the year has progressed, I’ve found that I’ve had fewer and fewer of these moments, as my writing flows much faster than it used to with all the practice I’ve been given this year.
I arrived in freshman year with an ego the size of Texas, convinced I knew everything there was to know about writing, reading, and everything in between. Since then, I’ve realized that not only did I not know anything about writing, but I’ve got a long way to go before I can claim even to know the first thing about it. However, I feel certain that I’ve been set on the path to attaining this goal.
The first in-class essay I wrote for my English class this year, “All or Nothing: Freedom of Speech Unites”, was nothing short of terrible—even after revisions (which somehow never managed to change the title). This essay contained virtually no analysis, little insight, and was stylistically weak. I’ve come a ways since then, the best example of my progress being a paper I wrote for my World Cultures class on the Shining Path, cleverly titled: “The Shining Path: Their Methods and Downfall”. This paper was stylistically sound and contained far more analysis of my evidence, than the previous disasters written for English class. Another feature I noticed in this research paper was a certain enthusiasm that previous papers had lacked. The interest in my subject definitely showed through into my writing, something that I think I’ve been able to do better on all writing assignments following that one.
At the beginning of my first semester, I had trouble setting myself an attainable goal for this year in English, as all I could think of was that I longed to be a published author some day. I eventually settled for fleshing out my analyses, which I think I’ve come pretty far in. My most recent paper was for my Art History class on Mary Cassatt, the American Impressionist. Though I have not yet received my teacher’s comments on this work, I am confident that I did well and that it was a strong essay. Not only did I have a great personal interest in the subject, but I spent a far longer time developing my analysis and defending arguments. This is rather ironic, considering that this paper was supposed to be focused more on the research than on the argument.
All in all, I think the greatest thing I’ve learned over the course of the first semester is that no matter how much I learn, there will always be far more that I do not know, however much I retain, it will never be enough, and that no matter what, I’ll never know all the nuances of writing; nobody can.