In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, the main character Milkman struggles with finding himself in his life. He goes from being a selfish and reckless teen to a compassionate young adult and many people can relate to the problems that he faces in life including myself. At the beginning of this semester, I was given a course epigraph that stuck with me for the rest of my semester.“You just can’t fly on off and leave a body.” As a result of reading into this epigraph and keeping it with me for these past couple of months, it has indeed helped me grow. Struggling the first couple of weeks with the workload I was receiving along with trying to find my place on campus was challenging to say the least. Fortunately, I knew that I couldn’t give up on myself. If this epigraph has taught me anything, it’s that no matter what challenges you face, you can’t give up.
Coming to Geneseo was something new and intriguing for me. Being born and raised in NYC was always something that I enjoyed growing up. After being there for many years, you often get tired and want to experience something new. Going into my senior year of high school, I knew that I wanted to leave the city for college, and with the support from my family, friends, and teachers, I was able to do just that. It was very tough coming here and getting out of my comfort zone. I didn’t have any friends when I first moved in because I was the only kid from my high school to come here. I went from living with my family and seeing them all the time to living with someone I never met beforehand. Moving from a big city to a small rural place was tough but I knew that I could overcome everything I was feeling and make it seem like home.
Starting off the semester was a real challenge for me because I had to get used to this environment while also getting used to the workload. I am not a big reader so when this semester started and I had to read several chapters of textbooks and books every week, it was hard for me to focus. Due to COVID and being online for the last two years of high school, my studying and work habits became non-existent and I knew that I needed those things in order to succeed in my first semester of college. Something that was refreshing to me was that everyone was experiencing this as well. There were so many people who were here at Geneseo for the first time even if they weren’t freshmen. So many people are getting used to the place and trying to find friends. It took a couple of weeks to get my new studying strategies going but I was finally able to get through that barrier and push on. Something else that I struggled with this semester was being away from my family. I am the oldest of 5 kids and I have always been around my family so when coming to Geneseo and seeing them be together without me was tough. When classes first started, they would always call me and I would always call them but as time went by and I began to get more comfortable with my surroundings, I was at ease. I went from thinking of Geneseo as my college to Geneseo becoming my home away from home.
During this semester, I learned about harm, care, reparations, and growth and these four words have meant something to me. As a freshman in college, it is hard to see your growth in just one semester but after being reminded by some family over the break, although you may not see it, we are always growing. Fortunately, I was allowed to grow as a writer and figure out my writing style which I immensely enjoyed. This semester was also the first time that I worked on a collaborative essay with other people and it went well.
As students take this writing seminar course, they often wonder why it is necessary and it becomes a burden for them. Honestly, taking this course helped me. Reading Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon and William and Darity’s From Here to Equality has helped me grow as a writer. Reading about Milkman in Song of Solomon and seeing him grow from a teenager into a respectful adult helps me appreciate what college can do for me. We all have people and even events in our lives that have helped shape us and for Milkman going back to where his family is from and being able to heal his wounds, as a result, helped him grow into the compassionate adult that we see at the end of the book. While there are some good quotes in Song of Solomon, there is one other quote that stuck out to me after the course epigraph, “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.”
Many people come to college and expect to return home being the same person they were before they left. However, to grow as both a writer and a person, you need to let go of the past sometimes. In my final year of high school, I had to let go of some people that were holding me back from being who I was. It is important to remember who you are and to not change for one person but it is ok to let go of things to grow to become your true self.
This first semester at SUNY Geneseo has taught me quite a lot. I have learned that not everyone grows up the same; not everyone will be your friend, and to have a fun time in college, you have to MAKE it fun. College is all about finding out who you are without your parents. It’s about starting your career and it’s about becoming who you are. College can be a fun experience if it makes it fun. These next four years are years that can change your life for the better or the worse. Just like in Song of Solomon, everyone will find themselves eventually, you just have to be patient and wait for it.