I am currently writing my last Spanish paper ever. Spanish classes have been the bane of my existence on and off for so long now that I feel like it’s impossible that I’m only two and a half pages of a term paper away from never having to take a Spanish class again.
I started Spanish lessons in elementary school. It was just a club that met after school one day a week, in which we learned colors and numbers and the names for la familia, but it was my introduction to the idea that English isn’t the only way to communicate; that something more than us existed. I avoided foreign language classes in middle school, and only took the requisite two years of Spanish in high school.
I then had two years off–two years during which, much like now, I thought I was done. Even when I spent two weeks volunteering in Costa Rica the summer between my junior and senior years of high school, I let other people do the Spanish speaking for me. Not because Spanish isn’t a wonderful language, but because speaking it to someone who was fluent, when I barely knew my way through present tense verb conjugations, was terrifying. So I avoided it, because I am the type of person who easily falls into the trap of avoiding things that scare me.
Then I had to look into colleges, and discovered that the only way for me to get a creative writing major was by becoming nearly fluent in a foreign language (because yeah, that makes sense). So fall semester of freshman year, Spanish classes began again.
I’ve been griping about vocab lists and reading assignments and essays and tests for a year and a half now. That’s almost as long as I’ve had this blog. (This isn’t to say I’m not grateful to learn Spanish. It just really stresses me out, because I want to be better at it than I ever am.) Once I turn in this final Spanish essay (and my professor decides I didn’t fail, of course), I’ll have completed twenty credit hours of Spanish over the course of three semesters.
I’m so close to being done.
In two and a half pages (and one, hour and a half-long class during which I will probably have to speak only once) I will be done. And if everything else goes as planned, I’ll also finish the entirety of my distribution requirements by the end of next summer, at which point my classes will turn into things I actually want to take: literature and creative writing and film.
And that is terrifying.
I hadn’t realized it would scare me, until now, finally getting to do what I want to do. But it does bring with it a certain amount of “growing up”; I have to leave my dreams of these things behind for their probably much-less-magical reality.
It’s one thing to take the classes everyone needs to in college. It’s another to walk into a classroom knowing that it is your choice to be there and that you had better enjoy it and do well in it, because it’s for your major and future. Right now, I love writing and reading and analyzing things. But what happens when I have to start doing it for a grade? What happens when it stops being the hobby I like to do after class, and becomes what I’m doing in class?
I don’t know. I don’t know, and I’ve already run into the problem of my stress reliever becoming what’s stressing me this semester, due to my creative writing class. Because by going into creative writing–by making this my career, and by making a career something that I need in order to survive rather than something I’m striving for simply because I want to–to an extent, I am taking it away from myself. Something that I have always done because I want to do it is becoming something that I’m doing because I have to, no choice in the matter.
But that’s okay, because that’s also a lie. I do have a choice. And I am choosing this.
I am scared, but I am doing it anyway.
Everyone should be lucky enough to do what they love for a living. And maybe right now I’m scared, and I am naturally the sort of person who’s more likely to flee than fight. But if something really matters, if something is irrevocably and irreplaceably important to you, you owe it to yourself to face it head on, rather than running away.
Others forced me to face Spanish; to learn it. I resisted it, because I was scared. But if I returned to Costa Rica today, I would no longer feel the need to hide behind other, better speakers to order my food for me or talk to the kids at the summer camp we worked at. Others made me face my fears, and because of it I finally learned Spanish (not well, albeit–but well enough).
Now, because I really care about writing, it’s time that I faced my fears myself.
I am scared of spending all day, every day (for longer than a couple months over the summer) in my chosen field for the first time in my life because it is uncharted territory. But I’m also excited beyond belief to finally leave Spanish behind (along with the rest of my unasked-for distribution requirements), and I am excited to put myself in those terrifying situations to see whether I sink or float. I’m excited to take literature and writing classes, and finally learn something in school that I actually care about and would like to learn.
I don’t want to do anything else. I love the publishing industry and the people within it. Sure, taking that next step–moving from full-time student who loves to write to full-time creative writing student–is hard. But it’s also the only thing that makes sense. And I want to do it.
I am a writer. I love to write. School might make it harder to appreciate next year, when I have two hundred pages of reading, a ten page analytical essay, and a short story due all on the same day, when all I want to do is work on a novel. But it’s either that or take more Spanish and genetics classes, right? And I am almost as excited to be done with those as I am to take lit courses next fall.
While drafting this final Spanish term paper this weekend, I stumbled across the word “aún” in my dictionary. It’s common, so of course I’ve used it before, but I never realized it means both “yet” and “still.” Which is interesting, because while those words have similar uses in the English language, they have entirely different meanings.
Yet, as in it hasn’t happened yet. And still, as in I am still waiting.
Yet: It still will happen. Still: It isn’t over yet.
One word is of what is to come; the other is what has not ended, but will. And it is a beautiful realization, the fact that those who speak Spanish view these as being entirely interchangeable, because it makes “aún” a word not only about the bad things you’d like to leave behind, but the good things you hope will come in the future. It gives you maybe a little bit of despair, but then it smashes that to pieces with hope.
Still: I am not done with the stressors of college still. Yet: At least I am yet to get to the really fun parts.
Yet: I have so much further to go. Still: I am happy with where I’m at right now.
Two and a half pages to go.