Senior Retrospective: Max Fine

As many of my friends and family have told me, I like looking back. This is probably why I’ve always enjoyed history and why I declared it as my major at the beginning of my sophomore year. Retrospection’s fun, what can I say?

Apparently my close friend mine actually got tired of hearing me say the word “nostalgia” over the course of this semester. I’m not surprised. So of course, when presented with the opportunity to actually look back on my own four years here, I had to take it.

I was going to be a music minor. This was about all I knew when I first set foot in my room in Main in the fall of 2013. I had played piano for twelve years, picked up a few other instruments along the way, and started writing music in my spare time, but I had no intention of doing any of this professionally. No idea of who my friends would be, what I’d major in, or what I might want to do for a living, everything was up in the air, but a music minor, that much I knew for sure.

I was wrong. Four years later, after pursuing (at different times) a music correlate, a German correlate, and a variety of identity-crisis-provoking additional second majors, I am graduating with a degree in history, and nothing else. I certainly got used to this reality over the past few years. But a few weeks ago, when I watched the time capsule video I sent to myself from first semester freshman year, I realized I was wrong about how much of the last four years would turn out.

Thank god. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the past four years is to be grateful for being wrong when it really counted, like during freshman year.

I nearly considered double majoring in a way that would have necessitated taking 28 credits between the two majors. Thankfully my freshman writing seminar professor told me that I was a history major, because “you read Robert Caro [author of an ongoing multi-volume biography of President Lyndon B. Johnson] for fun.” Or later that year, when I considered quitting theater entirely, before getting cast in Merely Players’ production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Now, four years later, I’ve written a senior history thesis I’m proud of, and made many of my closest friends from working on shows through Merely Players over the past three years.

Perhaps the most interesting thing for me about watching my video was not the answers to the questions I asked myself, but the questions I was asking. It was disorienting to remember what I was interested in and what I was thinking at the time, but it also brought back so many memories of another time. It really showed me that I am not the same person who first walked into Vassar four years ago, nor is this school the place it was then either.

This not to say the past few years have been idyllic. Vassar can be a crucible with visceral ups and downs, but on the whole it was worth it for me.

I guess I know more than I did four years ago, but I also know enough to realize that I’ve still got a ways to go. Vassar’s given me a lot, and I’ve learned a lot from it and the people here, and I’m glad I’ll be able to take that with me as I go forward into the next phase of life. So if there’s anything to take away from this mess of words, it’s to take the opportunities you get, but only when you’re fully able to take advantage of them. Better to enjoy what you do then to do everything and enjoy none of it. Thanks for reading.

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