COLUMN: Don’t do everything, do what you love

By Jonathan Jacobson

When I showed up to this campus four years ago, I assumed I would do it all. I would go to every football and basketball game, check out every “late night” in every dining hall, make out beneath the motherly gaze of the Alma Mater and start my own kite-flying club.

Although I came dangerously close to the kite-flying club thing – apparently, you need TWO people to found an RSO – I accomplished none of these goals. I saw some games, sure. I went to a late night or two, definitely. Maybe I engaged in some extracurricular fun on the Quad, though never at Wright and Green.

I came to this school expecting to complete the checklist they gave us in our little University of Illinois I-Book planner. But have you ever seriously read any of these things? They’re absurd. “Take an I-Book committee member to lunch.” “Load up on free cough syrup and condoms from McKinley.” “Play in the rain.”

Frankly, I’ve got better things to do with my time. I could, for example, take a wonderful nap in my bed during prime sunlight hours or engage in some long-overdue prank phone calls.

I’ll admit that I’m not one for the checklist. I blame this on a number of personal flaws, including – but not limited to – my inability to actually finish things I start. I also believe the checklist represents that quintessential all-American desire to do it all.

Instead of focusing your time on the things you love and want to do, why not just try to get everything in?

Personally, I prefer to find a niche, and I believe that over the last four years, I have found enough of them to keep myself happy.

It’s important to know your options and understand the possibilities that surround you every day on campus, but it’s also important to find the things you love and stick to them. If there’s one concept basic economics taught me – and there are no guarantees it taught me anything because I rarely attended lecture – it is that specialization makes the world go round.

At a university as large as this one, we have to be able to find a place for ourselves. It’s easy to get lost in the bureaucracy and the this-form-needs-to-be-signed-in-the-other-building nature of a 40,000-student university.

I spent my entire freshman year marveling at the thousands of potential paths that lay before me. I could be an “October Lover” or a “Simpsonica” member or even join the “Society of Women Engineers.”

It took me more than a year before I realized that I wanted to devote the majority of my non-scholastic time to The Daily Illini. But the experience I have gathered over the last three years there has been invaluable for my future.

Had I spent four years dabbling in different clubs, I never would have learned the intricacies of one of them. If I spent my time running through the I-Book’s to-do list, I would have forgotten to enjoy the small pleasures of each.

So, for the one or two visiting high school seniors who read this, the CU campus is not as big as it seems. Find your niche and stick to it. Don’t kill time looking for an outlet for all your passions; pick the biggest ones and go for them.

While I may never “Go to the observatory” or “Join Illini Union Board,” I will remember that I didn’t waste my time here. I did what I did, and I regret nothing. Mostly.

Jonathan is a senior in English and rhetoric. To be fair, though, he is going to miss the free cough syrup and condoms.