If there's one thing that sort of defined my first semester of college, it was Lin-Manuel Miranda's masterpiece of a musical, Hamilton. The cast recording was released less than a month into the semester, and since then I've listened to it countless times, while doing homework, walking to class, going home for the weekend and just hanging out in my room. In between all of the awesome one-liners and insane rapping moments (I'm looking at you, Daveed Diggs), there is a lot that can be taken away from Miranda's words. Like Hamilton, Miranda is a writer. I am also a writer. His words resonate, they teach lessons, they make you aspire, they make people better.
I am not throwing away my shot...
The theme of having just one shot is one that carries through the entire musical. From the third song, "My Shot", to the penultimate one, "The World Was Wide Enough", Hamilton talks about not throwing away his shot, and even tells his comrade John Laurens not to throw away his shot. Spoiler alert: only one of them does throw away his shot, and I think we all learned who that was in history class... The idea of only have one shot is applicable when it comes to college. In my first semester, I had so many opportunities and so many ways to prove myself, but only one chance at each opportunity to get it perfect. By striving for the absolute best in everything I did, I learned to not throw away any opportunity and to make the most of every single thing I do. I haven't thrown away my shot, and I don't intend on doing so.
Why do you write like you're running out of time?
Time is valuable. For a procrastinator, time is very valuable. It's almost like there's never enough time. You're always working against the clock, against time, and that's something I learned this semester. One particular piece of inspiration comes from this line:
Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!
In context, the show's narrator, Aaron Burr, is talking about the federalist papers. Fifty-one essays in six months is a lot. I just think about whenever I need to get myself back in the zone. If IRL Ham could write fifty-one, then I could write an article or a twelve page paper in a reasonable amount of time without missing deadlines. I've always found listening to that line, and the song it comes from ("Non-Stop") as motivation when doing homework.
I am the one thing in life I can control.
This line is probably my favorite of all 42 songs on the Hamilton cast recording. It's from Aaron Burr's showstopping number "Wait For It", and it's followed by the lines "I am inimitable / I am an original". Every time i listened, that line would always stand out. I knew it rang true, even now.
I'm not the best person to work with in a group project. I tend to work alone. When it's mandatory and I have to, I usually spend majority of the time stressing about the rest of the group. This semester, I had a particularly bad experience and I learned that I had to stop worrying about the work that the other people in the group because I couldn't control the quality of their work or the final product. The only thing I was in control of was the way I worked, and my assignments. Unsurprisingly, it's a lot easier to do things when you stop worrying about what everyone else is doing. So, thanks for all the inspiration, Lin-Manuel.
Who tells your story?
I've learned this year that telling someone's story is important. In high school, I'd decided that I would try to swiftly avoid interviewing as long as I could. I knew it would be impossible to get through even my first year as a journalism student without having to do interviews, but I was willing to try. I just hated to do interviews so much; I always felt like there was so much awkwardness.
In the past semester, I've listened to a lot of Hamilton, and I've researched a lot about him - the actual man. I learned that his wife Eliza told his story. Then I realized something that I could apply to myself as a writer: I wanted to tell people's stories. I wasn't interested in the actual interview as I was telling their stories. That became what I set out to do towards the second half of my first semester, and it turns out I got to tell a few pretty cool people's stories.
How Lucky We Are To Be Alive Right Now.
I remind myself this a lot, because it's true.
Lead Image Credit: vogue.com, Joan Marcus. Pictured: center, Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton.