Oberlin Blogs

Reflections on Running

November 28, 2023

Ariel Roberts ’25

Fall is slowly transitioning to winter: the air is turning chilly, the leaves are falling, and the semester is winding down. Whenever I see Tappan Square in fall, adorned with deep reds and oranges and yellows, I can’t help but get a little sappy (no pun intended). 

This semester I’m the busiest I’ve ever been, but also the most excited. With all my institutional requirements done and now being able to take the higher level Cinema Studies classes, my course load is jam packed with things I love. I’m finally taking a production class, Documentary Production, and we’re in the midst of shooting and editing our films in anticipation of the end of semester screening. While production classes may seem more casual than other classes, it’s a lot of work to make a movie, and I’m constantly thinking about what to do next for our film while also trying to balance my other classes. One of those classes is Japanese. I’m expanding on my minimal knowledge from Duolingo, and I absolutely love it despite the struggle. In fact, I think the struggle is what makes these classes all the more fun; I’m working very hard and I can already feel how it’s paying off. It’s like the rush of endorphins you get after a hard workout and you realize you did it and that you’re much more capable than you thought. I feel very fulfilled this semester and ready to take on any challenges that come my way. 

I also feel like I’m not just studying, but really doing something important. My documentary is something I am going to carry with me for the rest of my life, not just as an accomplishment and addition to my resume, but as a learning experience in filmmaking and in investigating the complexities and wonders of the world. My Japanese is something I hope to take with me when I visit my extended family in Japan, and who knows if I might end up living or working there in the future. Regardless, it's a great challenge for my brain and has really expanded my cultural knowledge. I’m also taking Intro to Sociology this semester, which was just to finish up some outer divisional requirements, but I find myself thinking about what we’re learning all the time in my other classes. Especially in my critical studies cinema course, Screening Spirituality, I find myself turning back to a sociological paper we read or some concept we discussed and applying it to the characters in the film as I think about their motivations and struggles. All my classes, even more so than in the past, are challenging and inspiring me every day. While this semester is difficult, it’s one of the most memorable I’ve had so far. 

I don’t have everything figured out, though, and I have a lot on my plate. Now that I'm an upperclassman, sometimes the uncertainty of the future scares me. Even though I’m doing all these things, I wonder if I'm on the right path. Sometimes I have moments where I think, “What if I completely change my major? What if I had started with a completely different idea of what I wanted to do? What if I go to graduate school? What if I take a gap year where I go around the world and just get lost in living?” There’s a thousand different ways my life could have gone and could go. But I don’t think there is any way of truly knowing what I ‘should’ do. Finding what you’re ‘meant’ to do is a lifelong process, and there’s probably no correct answer or way to get it right. What I am pursuing right now is what I enjoy and find fulfilling in this moment, and so I have to trust that there is no better decision I could make and no better place I should be. Sure, film isn't the most financially secure career path, but when I'm working on my documentary and I feel my passion and pride flowing, I know that I made the right choice. That's what going to a liberal arts school is all about, isn't it, dabbling in a little bit of everything and finding what truly interests you rather than going on a straight and narrow path. I remember when I first decided on Oberlin being so worried if I chose the right school, and now I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else. In the long run you’ll realize everything fell into place just the way it should have.

One of my biggest stress relievers is exercising. Whether taking a Yeofit class or working out on my own, while it may seem counterintuitive, speeding up my heart rate and sweating out the day helps slow down my mind. Sometimes movement is what you need. You may just go around the track and come back to where you started, but that movement will leave you with a feeling like no other. You’ll stand there and catch your breath and think, I did it, and I might not see the results yet, but I know I’m better for it. Even without thinking about your physical growth, internally you grow so much in your willingness to challenge yourself and to keep moving forward despite discomfort. The uncertainty and stress and worry is all part of the process. I’m going to keep running, and see where it takes me.

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