My Opportunity to Fly
By Adriana Spencer, Berry College
As many of you can imagine, being a college student can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. A person has to make sure their studies, room, and board are paid for, prepare for classes, study for exams, write extensively detailed papers…the list just goes on and on. But even with this heavy workload, I believe there is one thing that college students focus on the most: their purpose. We all decided to get a higher education for some reason, and that is to figure out where we belong. What is our goal? What is our purpose? What can we do to change the world? Some people are lucky enough to know what their passion is and to go for it, while others still have to figure out their own path.
In a sense, I’m one of those people who are still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. I don’t want to sound like a narcissist and say that I was destined for great things, but I feel like I have some type of purpose for being here today. As of right now, I don’t really have a set plan. I go to school, work, do my usual routines, sleep, and wake up to do everything all over again. People say that I need to push myself into figuring out what I want to do for the rest of my life. My parents still make decisions about my future like I’m three years old. My friends try to push me into majors that I’m not really that fond of. And all these career fairs and graduate school visits can take a toll on a girl’s mind and body. Isn’t it enough to just live in the moment? Can’t I just try to figure out my life by myself without any interruptions? I feel as if setting up your entire career path at such a young age is too permanent and stressful. There is nothing wrong with being prepared, but I feel that pushing the matter on someone so indecisive could honestly break a person’s spirit.
My point is that sometimes being in college and trying to figure out what you want to do for the rest of your life seems like a pretty daunting task, and sometimes, I’m not up for the ride.
This letter might seem a bit depressing and pointless, but don’t worry, there is a point to this madness.
One day, as I was getting ready for another day scanning documents in the Archives, I opened up the folder to see the smiling face of a young woman staring back at me. At first, I was a little baffled because I rarely get to scan any photographs or posters, but I couldn’t help but feel a little giddy that I got to do something different from the norm. As I was about to scan the photo, I took a really good look at this woman. She looked surprisingly familiar and that’s when I noticed that this picture wasn’t a picture at all, but a poster advertising Amelia Earhart’s visit to Rome. I was very surprised to learn that she actually took the time to come and visit a small town like Rome. I was curious as to why her poster would be in the Martha Berry documents, but as I read through the folder I learned that Martha Berry wanted Amelia Earhart to come visit the school and talk to the children about her career.
It was interesting to learn that someone so famous could actually visit the town, much less consider visiting the school. Sure, there was Mr. Ford and the odd president here and there, but for as long as I’ve worked in the archives, I had never really read about many female powerhouses (other than Miss Berry of course).
After this interesting little trip down history lane, I decided to brush up on some knowledge and learn a little more about Earhart’s life. I mean, there had to be more to the girl than an airplane and a nice looking aviator outfit, am I right? And boy was I right.
I was surprised to find that I shared some similar interests with this high flying heroine. I learned that she was a pretty adventurous kid who wasn’t afraid to explore the unknown and do her own thing. Once she was in school she took home some of the best grades, went on to college, became a nurses’ aid during the Spanish flu pandemic, and even became a social worker for a little while. Yet the one thing that I think struck a chord in me the most was that she was indecisive about her future as well. She kept newspapers and magazines of successful women at the time, and vowed that she would be like them someday. She knew she had a purpose driving her forward in life, she just didn’t know what that purpose was yet. But one day, her purpose came flying at her in the shape of a World War I ace, and that’s when her fog began to clear.
Earhart developed a love of airplanes and flying. When she was older she purchased her first plane, a yellow Kinner Airster biplane she named Canary, and began what would eventually be a career as a seasoned pilot. She became the first woman to ever to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, and she also broke many other aviation records. She became a role model for children, teens, and even adults. She proved to people that with a little strength and determination, one can do whatever they want to do.
Amelia Earhart’s story really impacted me that week. I don’t know why. Maybe it was because her story was so inspiring. Maybe it was because she left a path for many other women to follow, one of individuality and strength. Or maybe it was because of the irony behind me picking up that specific poster and thinking to myself that I can fly off to wherever the wind takes me. One thing’s for sure though, her life story made me start to reevaluate mine. I know my story isn’t over yet, I don’t even think my story has started yet. But what I think I should do is stop listening to everyone and everything that is going on around me and try to actually listen to myself for once. Maybe then I’ll be able to find my opportunity to fly. After all, anything is possible if you set your mind to it.