“What do you want to be when you grow up?” This question is asked consistently throughout everyone’s young life. When we’re kids, it’s okay to say pretty much anything, whether it’s overly ambitious or not well thought out. However, once we get into college, a metaphorical switch is flipped. The expectation is for us to have a plan — some sort of blueprint for our future careers — and an idea of where and what we want to be after graduation. This was not the case for me.
My first two years here could best be summed up as directionless. I came to Binghamton University undecided, so I took about as many different classes as you could imagine, hoping to find my calling. However, this didn’t naturally happen like I thought it would, and after my first semester, I felt even more confused than when I first arrived. What compounded this confusion even more was COVID-19, which caused the next year and a half to be a complete blur. When I think back to that time, I have trouble recalling what I did other than sleep and attend Zoom University. I struggled to live in the moment, and because of that, this period was not as productive as it could’ve been.
During the year of COVID-19, friends and family would always ask the big question — “What do you want to do with your life?” Whenever I told people, “I’m not sure yet” or “I’m still figuring it out,” I was often met with seemingly disingenuous words of encouragement. Despite having support from nearly 100 percent of my friends and family, I couldn’t help but notice their subtle concern about me not having any idea of what’s next. And I didn’t blame them — my apparent lack of direction or ideas was a huge red flag, and most importantly, I was concerned about my future as well.
The fall semester of my junior year is when school started to feel normal once again. By this point, I had finally made the decision to become an English major but still had no idea what I would do with it. Then, in the middle of September, I received an email from the English department’s Listserv advertising an open position for Assistant Sports Editor at Pipe Dream. I didn’t know it then, but that email kicked off what would become my identity for the next two years.
I really had no idea what to expect. I had no connections to Pipe Dream, and I never had any experience in journalism, but I knew I loved sports, and that was enough. Anyone who knows me is painfully aware that sports control my life. Most of the time, you will find me either watching, playing or doing something related to sports. Before, it used to be one of my main sources of procrastination, but now my obsession could finally be productive.
During my interview I met Joe and Ian, who were leading the section at the time. They explained the position and the responsibilities, but what I remember most is how cool and professional they both were, and I admired the way they conducted themselves. I felt an immediate connection to them and knew I wanted to be a part of this. Even with no prior experience, they decided to take a chance and hire me, and I’ll forever be grateful for their trust and belief in me.
After this, Pipe Dream quickly controlled my life. It became my biggest priority and responsibility — something I had lacked during my first two years—and for the first time since high school, I felt like I was productive again, doing work that I actually enjoyed. As a result of being busy again, I felt more present, and with Pipe Dream at the forefront of my responsibilities, I finally had some kind of idea of a career path I could follow.
Throughout the year, my love for sports journalism only grew as I became more comfortable interacting with coaches and players. Joe and Ian were the best mentors I could’ve possibly hoped for, coming in as a complete novice. With their friendship and guidance, I felt ready to take on the responsibility of Sports Editor.
This past year has been nothing short of memorable. Having the responsibility of leading an entire section was not something I had foreseen coming into college. On top of having that role, the relationships and friendships I’ve been able to develop will stick with me for the rest of my life. Being in an environment that I felt comfortable in made it easy to live in the moment and appreciate the time I spent with everyone in the office. Now, at the end of my time as Sports Editor, I pass the torch to Johnny and Jake, who I know will continue to build up the Sports section.
However, even now, having established my identity and found my place here at school, I’m not quite sure what I want to do with my life. What I am sure of is that as long as I continue believing in myself and the decisions I make, I’ll end up where I’m meant to be. These four years have shown me the paths that I can go down — it’s up to me whether I take them or not.
As I think back to some of the most important moments of my college experience, there are times when I wish I had been more present. A common cliche is to live every day in the moment and not take anything for granted. Whenever I heard someone say that, I’d always roll my eyes and think to myself how ridiculous and impossible that was. But now that I have time to reflect, it’s not really about being present all the time — it’s about making the effort to be. When you take yourself out of a situation, you deprive yourself of the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, and it shows. Being present, whether at work or socially, shows that you care. This past semester, I realized how important that is and have really made an effort to be present for my friends and family. While it can be exhausting, you realize that what you give is truly what you end up getting back.
Nick and Mason — my roommates for all four years — when I randomly joined your suite as a single in Digman Hall, I had no idea I would be joining guys I would be living my entire college career with. Through all of the ups and downs, you guys made my college experience and are two of my best friends.
To Matt, Rich, Travis and Woods — you guys have always been there for me. We’ve had some great moments and I appreciate the friendship you all have shown me. Thanks for welcoming me into your group — and your couch after a night at Red Jug — these are the memories I’ll always remember.
Life is filled with uncertainty, and for me and most people, that can be an extremely frightening thing. But it’s so important to not let that uncertainty weigh you down and prevent you from reaching your full potential. In the movie Kung Fu Panda, there’s a quote by Master Oogway that has always stuck with me — “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”
Uncertainty is what kept me in a box for my first two years here. Pipe Dream lit a path and I took it. Good things in life will happen if you go after it so don’t wait for the perfect option to present itself to you. You have to go and make it happen. Today is the ultimate gift. It’s up to you to be present.
Jack Oh is a senior majoring in English and is Sports Editor. He was an assistant sports editor from 2021-22.