It was my freshman year in college and my first creative writing class of the semester.
We had to write an essay describing our writing styles and influences in class and then read it aloud to everyone.
In mine I wrote that “my life has been as interesting as anyone’s.”
What a pompous statement from someone still freshly 20.
The room was quiet when I read these words. Too quiet. Bomb aftermath quiet.
When I finished reading, the professor praised my confidence, saying all good writers should have a bit of arrogance about them.
Had I been a classmate in the room witnessing my own reading, I might have said something along the lines of, “Yeah, great essay, Jane Goodall.”
In my defense, I’d just come off a Greyhound bus voyage that took me halfway around the country and put me into some pretty interesting situations.
After just that one trip I was James Dean, I was young Clint Eastwood, I was Chris McCandless. Or so I felt. And if any of those images seem contradictory, it’s because I wasn’t really any of those things.
Not even close.
My senior quote in high school was a quip by songwriter Rufus Wainwright: “The emotion I feel when I’m writing is — I’m a genius!”
I picked that quote out in jest, and I still think it’s funny, but what does this say about this time in my life? That I’m a genius or still far from it?
If I’ve learned anything as I’ve aged, it’s that I still have a lot to learn and a lot to experience.
That’s why I chose journalism. It leads me to those new experiences. It forces me outside of my comfort zone.
And also, what’s “interesting” is often in the eye of the beholder. Sure, I have not lived amongst apes as has Jane Goodall, but has she taken a ride on a garbage truck, talked to active gang members or been in the Oklahoma City Thunder locker room like I have?
Wow Ben, I thought this column was about not being arrogant.
You’re right, I’m sorry, but I’m getting to my point, which is: Realizing you’re still on life’s journey doesn’t mean you have to sell yourself short.