Finding My Muse: My Story to You

Issue 24: February 14, 2024

When I started this article, I was very hesitant to my own story. I didn’t want to make my internal motivation personal as this makes the motivation feel individualized and not universal. So I would like to make it clear, you might not feel moved by my words, but I hope that something valuable can be taken away from my story. I grew up in a small, rural West Texas town of less than 3,000 people. We had one Subway, a Sonic, and a Walmart that sticks out like a rose in a cotton field. Most students who graduated from my town found their success outside of education, whether that be through agriculture or the oilfield. Most members of my family had founded their lives without the use of college, some not even completing high school.

I was an okay high school student, I enjoyed athletics and UIL speech and debate more so than I enjoyed homework and studying. I typically got by through cramming early morning study sessions and hoping the context clues of questions were enough for me to deduct an answer. I know I don’t exactly sound like a model student, but what came after December 2018 would forever alter my life and my appreciation of the position I am in now as a college student.

Without getting too personal, conflicts with family led me to finish my final semester of high school living out of my vehicle. My first night at McMurry as a freshman was the first time I had a bed in 8 months. When I started college, I was egotistical, demeaning, and lazy. I approached college as a joke with no punch line. My grades showed this mentality. I suffered in and out of school mentally. The work was not overtly difficult but my approach to it made it much more unmanageable. I ended up transferring to a junior college and struggled my way through simple freshman classes. Even when I returned to McMurry my class attendance and effort in class were underwhelming at best. I even lost an entire year of track and field under academic suspension.

Now I know you might be thinking that this doesn’t sound very motivating, but just bear with me. After my suspension, I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I had gone from the honors program to being on the verge of flunking out in a record two years. I had an entire winter break to wallow in my pity and make the decision of if I was going to return to school. That break would change my entire life. I decided in that moment of lowness that I was going to be an artist, and my life would be my canvas. I ended that spring semester with a 4.0, where I made my first Dean’s List and eventually managed to drag my miserable 1.8 GPA to a 3.0 in just two semesters.

I know college is difficult, and balancing the weight of impending full adulthood with the importance of academic excellence can seem like a tall mountain to climb. Yet, to climb that mountain, you have to start at the base. There is no shortcut up the climb, every bit of height gained is an earned step closer to the peak. You are capable of so much more than you will ever mentally be able to understand. Your trials and tests are not walls of impossibility; they are opportunities for growth. To say that things in life can be difficult is an understatement, but your approach and response to these trials will define your entire life. I could have ruined my canvas and thrown away my opportunity to create art. Instead, I chose to be my own muse and find my own motivation. If you find yourself struggling as a student, I urge you to remember how unique your position is. You have been handed a brush with a world of possibilities; paint your canvas, find your muse, and be an artist. Never stop climbing—the view from the peak is well worth the trouble.