The first day of spring semester, sophomore year.
Wednesday, January 18, 2018. 8 a.m.
Carroll Hall. The UNC School of Media and Journalism (currently the Hussman School of Journalism and Media). The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Now that I’ve set the scene. Let me tell you the story of how I learned about Murphy’s Law. The hard way.
It was my first day as a student of the J School. I was bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and beyond excited to take classes I was actually interested in. As someone who made countless “music videos” and “audition tapes” throughout my youth, I was pumped to actually learn how to properly use a camera.
Our professor walked in and after introducing himself he got serious and told us if there was anything to remember before we started the semester, it was Murphy’s Law: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
And I should have listened.
I did the first assignment the day before it was due. I’d done it plenty of times before and things had gone off without a hitch. But the assignment had to be done outdoors and it was raining. I had to be careful to shield the school’s camera from rain – afraid even one drop of water would result in damage and thus a large fine.
Then my files wouldn’t upload to the class site so I had to email my professor, let him know the situation and bring all the files to class on a USB. He had told us to plan for these things and I hadn’t. As I finished uploading the files, he reminded me of Murphy’s Law and sent me on my way.
However, I was convinced this was a one off occurrence. I
The second assignment, done fairly last minute went wrong as well. My mic didn’t work and all the audio was fuzzy, deeming the entirety of the interview I had gotten unusable.
And that wasn’t the end of it.
The week leading up to our final project due date, I got the flu. When I realized I wasn’t going to get it done on time I requested and was granted an extension. Three extra days to compile my mini documentary footage and then edit it. Don’t worry, it gets worse. My flu led to a kidney infection. I couldn’t walk but it needed to get done.
Surprise, I got it done.
But if I had just gotten a head start on the half a semester long project, I could have spent those two weeks in bed editing instead of crawling out of my dorm attempting to get footage.
Everything that could have gone wrong did.
It was a hard lesson to learn and I still struggle sometimes with putting what I know to practice. Projects occasionally get done at the last minute, even still, two years later.
Sometimes you can’t plan for what will go wrong. Every once in a while everything in your life spins out of control and there’s nothing to do but adjust and keep moving forward*. With that being said, after my many lessons in preparedness, I urge you to plan for the things you can control and stay on top of them so when life hits hard, adapting is just a little bit easier.
*Or maybe Mercury is just in retrograde and there really is nothing to do about it.