I know that as I get older, the world constantly asks me to narrow my interests.  It asks me to focus my energies, to improve my skills, to become more specific.  That frustrated me toward the end of high school.  Choosing a major as I applied to college made me feel like I was confining myself to one path.  I wanted to do everything.  I loved every sport (except hockey) as a kid, had fun learning new things in my classes, and always felt a rush as I sang on stage.  I didn’t want to give any of that up.  So I chose to go somewhere that made my future limitless.

I applied to Northwestern as a dual-degree student hoping to study vocal performance and broadcast journalism.  Northwestern and its dual-degree program enticed me because it allowed me to pursue two interests, as opposed to just one, as majors at the college level.  I received my acceptance email and set off toward the next phase of my life.  Northwestern blew me away with all the opportunities, both academic and extracurricular, it offered me.  I wanted to do everything.  I joined two singing groups and managed those pretty well along with my classes during my first two years at NU.  Then junior year happened.

I had managed to meet a lot of people at Northwestern during my first two years.  I apparently left positive impressions on those whom I met, because all of a sudden, I was receiving invitations to participate in many more groups.  Some of my friends asked me for favors, like singing in a volunteer choir, and my mom wanted me to participate in my first opera.  I did everything.  Much sooner rather than later, these commitments took up all my free time.  I had no time to unwind during the day, so I stole that time from the amount I would sleep each night.  That was perhaps not the wisest choice, but I didn’t come to college because I already knew everything.  That year taught me an incredibly important lesson.  I could do anything at Northwestern, but I couldn’t do everything.

I finished junior year as an inexperienced marathon runner finishes their first race.  I was tired, proud, and looking forward to relaxing.  At the beginning of senior year, more requests from my friends rolled in.  I had to learn how to say no to my friends in order stay healthy.  As I turn toward the future, I’m excited to narrow my focus and devote myself to a few things primarily.  By showing me all that I could do, Northwestern helped me realize that I was human, with human limitations, but that I also had the boundless hope that stems from human aspiration.  I now know that I can’t do everything.  However, I now wake up each day excited and ready to do the things that I love most.

–Robby Eisentrout

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