I had all the contents for my last column planned out. It was supposed to be a beautiful, deeply sentimental goodbye letter to both the Daily Trojan and USC. Even since the first week, I had already begun writing fragments that I could later place into the final draft. It made me misty-eyed just thinking about it. My final column would be the culmination of not only my time at USC, but also the end of a very special chapter of my life.
But then I got into USC for graduate school. And two days later, I enrolled in classes next semester.
I’m coming back, y’all!
For those who haven’t been keeping up since the beginning of the semester, most of my column has been devoted to my adjustment returning to USC as an undergraduate student, after having taken some time off. I “graduated” in May 2016 — though I was shy two classes and didn’t actually get my degree. Instead of finishing right away, I worked as a freelance reporter for some time, only to have an inexplicable emptiness festering inside me.
I couldn’t figure out why something felt off. In retrospect, all the signs as to why I felt so passive were there, such as powerful nostalgia for my college days and an intense yearning to return to those days. So, on a whim — much like Drew Barrymore in Never Been Kissed — I went back to school.
I remember my first day back so vividly. I walked among teenagers on the first day of fall semester, feeling both excited to have one last hurrah as a college student and ready to apply my learned life experiences in hopes of not repeating the same mistakes I did years before. I showed up to every class on time. I completed all assignments by the due date. I sat in the front and actively participated. I was determined to show these picayunes that Paris Gellar had arrived, and that she was ruthless when it came to getting the top grade. This would be my second chance to make things right.
I learned more about myself in this one semester than I have in the last seven years as an (on-and-off) undergraduate. Before returning to school, I assumed my discontentment was a direct result of my vacant diploma frame. I had initially returned to fill the void by recreating my early 20s, but I now understand these feelings were due to misdirected romanticization. Between “graduating” and eventually returning, my fantasies were plagued by real life.
My original goal was to make it as a writer. Though I did achieve some success as a journalist, there was no way I could survive financially in a place like Los Angeles. I was urged by friends and family to move to New York City, but all the money I was making went toward living expenses. I could barely afford to go out in L.A. and when I did, I limited myself to a two-drink minimum. How could I possibly acquire the resources for a cross-country move without supplemental funding?
Slowly, my desire to be a writer was overshadowed by my need for basic life necessities. My priorities shifted — what could I do that is viable but wouldn’t compromise my happiness? So about two months ago, I decided to apply for the Management in Library and Information Science master’s program, with the hope of becoming a librarian.
I didn’t want to apply for MFA programs or go to journalism school. If I were to frequent a graduate program, it would need to be — for lack of a better word — practical. But that isn’t at all to say I’m settling. I would love nothing more than to be a librarian (more specifically, a music librarian). I tried the whole being-a-writer-and-eating-beans-straight-from-the-can bit. It made me happy for a while. But I got it out of my system. I may romanticize creativity, but there is nothing sexier than a stable income.
If someone told me when I “graduated” that I’d eventually return, I’d probably scoff. I’d be even more tickled to know I’d even be going back for graduate school. But I’ve learned not to say goodbye too quickly, because if there’s one takeaway from these past 15 weeks, it’s to never say never. I’m not even saying goodbye to writing — I’ll still be freelancing here and there while also working on my own stuff. And I can still be a writer and do other things, can’t I? Who knows. Maybe my time as a librarian is just a pit stop. Or maybe I’ll live the rest of my life in the stacks. And I’m fine with that. The only way to find out is to experience it for myself.
But enough with the platitudes. And like I said, this isn’t goodbye. It’s only the beginning. I said it months ago, and I’ll say it again: I’m ready to go, from the top.
See you in January, fellow Trojans.
Arya Roshanian is a “senior” majoring in music. His column, “From The Top,” ran Tuesdays.