May 23, 2019

McDEVITT | Better Late Than Never

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I started at The Sun as a sports columnist, writing pretty boring national sports opinion pieces that I mostly enjoyed, but nobody read. I did even once try to become an opinion columnist, but for reasons my friend Jacob Rubashkin ’19, then associate editor, still has not explained to me, I was not accepted. Thankfully.

Since, I’ve grown so much as a writer, an editor and a person in ways that will probably define a portion of who I am for a long time. And as my delayed graduation finally looms in the not-distant-enough future, I can’t help but thank The Sun for a lot of that growth.

Graduation is a time to, among other things, reflect. On successes and failures. Loves and losses. Satisfactions and regrets. All are important to evaluate your college experience and take away what you learned, how you grew and where your personal development might take you next.

Regret, in particular, is one of the most common things you hear from a graduating senior. And it’s understandable — when a chapter in your life is closing, it’s easy to think about what else you could have written in it. And as a fifth-year senior with probably more regrets than most, I can’t help but nod and agree whenever one of my friends is listing the things they wish they had done in their time on East Hill.

My family members often joke that after ten semesters, my brain better be teeming with knowledge about this subject and that one, but like everyone else I remember little of substance from the majority of my classes as an undergrad. But there’s one thing I’ve learned in my own tumultuous college experience that stands out above it all, and it’s probably more valuable than anything a textbook could have taught me: no matter what, it’s never too late.

It took me five years (hopefully, I do have three finals and three papers) to graduate. It’s mostly my own fault that it took this long. When I started at Cornell, I floundered in the classroom and struggled to find my place. I never quite rose to the level that was expected of me, and it felt like I was the only one who felt that way. I later learned it would have been strange if I didn’t feel that way, but what did I know?

Like many others, it took me time to adjust, and to grow, and eventually things picked up for me. But I didn’t let my slow start — which cost me a punctual graduation — discourage me from reinventing myself and learning from my mistakes. I resolved to not let my own shortcomings and past miscues define my college experience, and I certainly wasn’t going to let it define who I was.

Over budget and behind schedule is not exactly something to be proud of, I understand. But it’s better to have tried new things and grown along the way than never to have struggled at all. So if you’re reading this, first of all, congratulations on reading an opinion column this far. But more importantly, if you’re considering trying new things but feel like it’s too late, know that no matter what happens you’ll more likely than not be happy you did it. Even if you’re graduating too, there’s still a week and change left to experience what’s around you.

My only true regret is that I didn’t realize all that sooner than I did. But I am still thankful that I realized it eventually. Because the things that I learned along the way are lessons that I’ll take with me wherever I go in life, and I’ll always have my Cornell experience to thank for it.

For me, the biggest positive change was joining The Sun. It taught me more than I can outline in a single column. But it might be something different for you. Or maybe it is The Sun, either way.

To quote Kurt Vonnegut ’44, “The Cornell Sun, thank goodness, showed me what to do with my life, and I did it.”

There are so many things I wish I had done sooner. I wish I had learned to stop being so hard on myself sooner. I wish I had joined The Sun sooner. I wish I had taken my studies seriously sooner. All these things, and more, I could have, and probably should have, done sooner. But I’m still glad I did them eventually. And having the knowledge, personal relationships and self confidence that I have as a result means that if I could do it all again, I’d probably do it the exact same way.

 

Dylan McDevitt is graduating from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He was the sports editor on The Sun’s 136th editorial board. He can be reached at dmcdevitt@cornellsun.com.