By Chris Crowder
One of the first conversations I had with my friend group upon enrolling at Michigan was about our Five-Year Plans—what did we want and what were we planning to do five years from now? I had no idea then and I have no idea now. The difference between now and then is that now, I know that it’s completely fine and normal to not know how things will work out. Even if you do think the next five years or so are all set in stone, something is always guaranteed to change. I’m about five years removed from my freshman year of college and I think my past self would be thrilled but surprised at where I am today.
Being a part of LHSP (currently LSWA) introduced me to the wide range of pursuits the students in our program can take. I came into college with a high interest in film, thinking there was nothing else I would do. LHSP brought me into the worlds of journalism, poetry, fiction writing, and music production. Even though I was in LHSP for just a year, the classes, clubs, and community of my peers planted little seeds into my mind of new things to try later on in my college career. Simply, without the people and structure of LHSP, I wouldn’t have broadened my horizons and wouldn’t have tried new things. My advice is to take interest in your peers’ artistic pursuits and to join multiple communities outside of LHSP. I wrote and edited for the Michigan Daily and did the Minor in Writing program. Seeing how the different art and writing styles work both creatively and professionally will go a long way to deciding what you want to do.
I will also say that if you have a passion, stick to it, but keep your options open. My current passion of poetry was only seriously discovered three years ago. I was really into filmmaking and writing for the Daily but once I got into poetry, it was the only thing that felt so challenging, freeing, and joyful at the same time for me. And it was through LHSP where I was introduced to the MFA in Creative Writing—a Master’s degree in fine arts. I wouldn’t have pursued this path if I didn’t build some confidence and writing muscle memory that LHSP granted me with.
I never knew that my current reality of studying an MFA in Poetry at Michigan was possible before I came to LHSP. And there’s so many other avenues and awards that LHSP can introduce to you to make college easier and so you can get recognition for your work—think the LSWA writing contest [Caldwell Poetry Prize] and the University’s Hopwood Awards for example. There’s so much out there and LHSP was my stepping stone and foundation for my writing career I have today. I’m working on my first poetry collection, meeting with literary agents and editors, and building friendships with some of the most wonderful people in my cohort in my MFA program.
Even a year from now I had no certainty I would be where I was. I dreamed of it and craved to study at Michigan again. Last year I was working in Chicago for an insurance brokerage. I appreciate the work and the finances I was able to figure out because of my position there but I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing. So I took a risk and applied to MFA programs and was blessed to get into two. Looking back on my journey in reverse, it’s crazy how one thing leads to another to get me to where I am now. LHSP was the start of it all and things worked out through some luck, some practice, and though learning that it’s okay to not have it all figured out at any moment, I felt a lot more at ease about where I could be headed.
All photos courtesy of Chris Crowder.