I’ve been really uncomfortable during my time here at Penn State. Spontaneity and I go together about as well as toothpaste and orange juice. I crave routine. People, quite frankly, exhaust me; they provide far too many variables to account for. A dream night for me is peace and quiet, alone in my empty apartment watching reruns of Jeopardy on Netflix or deciphering the words of LSU football coach Ed Orgeron after a game.
I need every last minute of my day planned to a tee. Stray from the script, and I get edgy. Yet for some strange reason I’ve been unable to place one of my abnormally gangly fingers on, I continually feel compelled to emerge from isolation and immerse myself in the chaotic hysteria that is sports journalism.
Ask me four years ago where I would see myself today, and covering one of the nation’s most prominent football teams for the undisputed, best college news outlet in the country, would have been met by one of my trademark snarky comments. After all, I was a student at Georgetown sitting in an anatomy class solely concerned about getting an A on tomorrow’s test.
I was comfortable at Georgetown. It was basically high school on steroids. Wake up at six, go to class, study and repeat. My days were formulaic. I never deviated from the plan. Never did I have to worry about the offensive play calling on a fourth and five to determine my night.
But as sophomore year rolled around, I found myself asking the same question every college student likely does at some point: Am I really enjoying what I’m doing?
The obvious answer was no. For as much as I enjoyed identifying the duodenum of a cat soaked in formaldehyde in a windowless lab, my favorite hobbies of watching sports and Jeopardy immediately popped into my mind.
Alas, Alex Trebek had no intentions of retiring in the near future, so I explored the field of journalism.
Since Georgetown lacked a journalism department, a football stadium with a capacity of over 500 and even a competent basketball team at the time, Penn State seemed like a natural place to call home given three generations of Schlarp’s before me had attended.
So in January 2017, I got really uncomfortable. I transferred to Penn State, made the best decision of my life in joining the Collegian and haven’t ceased being uncomfortable since that time. It is for that very reason, however, that I am in a much better place spiritually and mentally and haven’t regretted the choice to pursue my passion ever since.
In the words of one of the world’s greatest prophets, Conor McGregor, “The more you seek the uncomfortable, the more you will become comfortable.”
Never before would I have imagined voluntarily spending my nights in bowls that hold over 107,000 wild and uncontrollable variables. I’ve had to very painfully learn there is no such thing as a comfortable Penn State football win.
Because just like in real life, you can’t account for the Appalachian State’s of the world. You can’t account for the 50 minutes it will take to get through a Taco Bell drive-thru in Ann Arbor at 1 a.m. as you sit idly by with your fellow football beat partners.
Life is unscripted, and as uncomfortable as that sounds, it’s an inevitability that we all must learn to cope with. Sure, some days have been torturous for me to handle, and I’ve had to sweat out writing far too many last-second gamers as Penn State athletics continues to shave years off the end of my life.
I’m even the go-to member of the football beat that gets to sleep in a ball with just a bath towel as a blanket on the linoleum floors of our Airbnb’s because God forbid we pay for a hotel room. While my spine may sing a different tune, I wouldn’t trade these two years for the world.
As the final days fly by on my fourth and final semester at Penn State, I have so many people and experiences to be thankful for in helping me step out of my peaceful solitude into the disarray of sports.
Thank you Tyler King for the countless miles we put on your car traveling to places like Madison Square Garden and for always making sure a bag of pretzels was nearby. Thank you Matt Lingerman. From covering women’s soccer to Penn State football, we started at the bottom and now we’re here. Mark Fischer, for as much as people enjoy poking fun at you, you are literally one of the most talented people at your job, and I learned more from you than anyone else.
Vince, Dave and Pat, thanks for putting up with me on the football beat. And most importantly, Mom, thank you for letting me get the both of us uncomfortable by allowing me to follow my dreams.
For as much as I pride myself on being original, going left when all others go right, my biggest takeaway from the whole college experience has been a total cliche: “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.” As I set forth into the abyss of the great discomfort of the real world and the job market, I know I do so with fully open arms and an arsenal of amazing experiences I’ve gleaned from my short time as a Nittany Lion.