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7 November 2005

Choices

“What distinguishes us is not our power
or ability, but the choices we make.”

—Professor Dumbledore
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”

If you’ve read any of my previous entries then you know that I’m a firm believer that the choices we make sculpt the people we become, our choices chipping away at a metaphorical block of unformed choices and chances waiting to be transformed into a masterpiece that is the essence of human experience. To me, it always seems that this time of the year is full of monumental choices, filled with life-changing decisions that could have reverberating impacts.

Last year about this time I was contemplating the colleges that I would be applying to, in essence deciding where I would be for the next four years of my life. Today I find myself trying to determine my spring semester schedule. I can honestly say that I’ve learned a lot from this semester and mainly two things. First, don’t take 16 hours of courses if you plan to be involved in any time-consuming clubs or organizations. Second, don’t schedule any classes before 11 a.m.

In retrospect, that last sentence makes me appear lazy. So as a “responsible role model” and “respectful member of society” let me modify that statement: Don’t take any classes earlier than you are willing to wake up. I know that 11 a.m. is a late start and somewhere in the town of Friendswood, Texas, my parents are gasping at the deplorable state of my sleeping habits.

I remember in high school that waking up at 6:30 a.m. was just part of the daily routine. I can’t fathom why I’m finding it so hard to wake up before 10 a.m. Perhaps it’s because most nights I don’t go to bed before 2 a.m. (OK, I’ll admit that’s probably the primary reason.)

Partly, I think it’s also due to the fact that my schedule is so different each day of the week, and I’m so used to having an established uniform routine that the lack of conformity on a daily basis makes it hard for me to get back on track. Or simply put, I’m being lazy, and I am not afraid to admit that I am willing to take advantage of any chance for me to sleep in. Rather than choosing to go to bed, I choose to indulge in a late night, or should I say very early morning movie, “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.”

There’s something about college that transforms “early birds” into sleep-deprived night owls. Unlike high school, most classes don’t have mandatory attendance policies, leaving the decision whether or not to go to class entirely up to you. Which is frightening, when you have students like me resort to asking “What would Spider-Man do?” to address their indecisive woes.

Don’t get me wrong, I am trying to change my sleeping habits for the better. But, at times my efforts seem as futile as Sisyphus’ never-ending attempt to roll the boulder up the hill, to be so close and only to fail before the apex of completion. It’s a bit melodramatic, but then again I’m in one of my moods. There are those who would call me a drama queen, I like to say that it’s the artist inside of me wanting to find self-expression.

In summation, I think what I’m trying to illustrate is that we are constantly faced with choices that on the surface may only appear to have a superficial impact, but like the old adage, “all the small things add up to the big things,” every choice we make manifests itself in greater form.

An article from a respected science journal reaffirmed my belief in this concept when it brought to my attention the theories of meteorologist Edward Lorenz. In 1972 he theorized that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a tornado in Texas. It’s amazing to think that something as fragile as a butterfly could in one miniscule flap of its wings be the catalyst to the birth of a raging force of nature. Maybe I’ll think twice before sleeping through my classes.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that just because you choose not to go to UT it will set off a chain of events that will eventually lead to death and destruction and an onslaught of the human race. No, you’ll just die earlier and suffer a slow and painful death…I’m joking.

What I am trying to enlighten you with is the understanding that the choices we make are equally important regardless of their short- or long-term consequences. And with this understanding, I hope that every choice you make, whether it’s the colleges you are applying to, the classes you sign up for or as simple as choosing to get out of bed, that you understand and are comfortable with the choices you make. Life is too short for us to second-guess ourselves.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at emmanuel.winston@gmail.com. I also want to say that I appreciate all the e-mails I have received and they are an inspiration for me to keep writing.

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