My high school English teacher told me that there are never any finished writing, only deadlines. Looking back through my old essays from freshman year, I thought that I would cringe about the naivety of what I had written–and I did. But more surprisingly, in creating the portfolio, I found connected pieces of myself through the years of college writing. The first three lines of my Directed-Self Placement essay could have been taken from the opening paragraphs of my honors thesis. I wrote about the importance of family and friends to a flourishing life as a freshman and as I senior, I expanded on that idea in a honors thesis. But it wasn’t an intentional choice—the itch to keep writing about a topic wasn’t satisfied.
It was also amazing to see how my tone hasn’t fundamentally changed. There is the same eager passion to raise a point or ask a question. The only difference now is that I learned that I often cannot makes big claims as I’d like. Phrases like, “fundamental truth” have tapered into “compelling theory”.
I thought looking back at my old writing would be embarrassing. I thought would have to hide in my room for hours at the shame of all the things I once sounded smart. I was really skeptical that going back through old writing and buffing the rough edges was worthwhile. I was surprised by the things I learned. I wish that I had trusted the process a bit more, instead of kicking and screaming.
In the past few days, I’ve finished my thesis, project and portfolio and completed my final class of undergrad. It have come to many “ends”, and for the next little bit of my life, the most substantial writing projects I will have will be cover letters (boo). I have a hope that my English teacher was right, that your writing is never really finished. And perhaps that’s why I’ve found such delight in looking back at my old essays and stories—it gives me hope that I can continue to grow as a writer.
So maybe this isn’t really The End, but rather just a place along the way.